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Managing Stress in the Civilian Workplace

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Source: Flickr billselak

Joining the civilian workforce following your military career can be both an exciting and stressful time. The culture and operations of a civilian workplace may differ from what you experienced during your military career. Be patient as you adjust to your new position, work environment and co-workers.

Common Workplace Stressors

1. Feeling Disconnected
When you work with people who have never been in the military, you may feel disconnected or that you don’t have anything in common with your co-workers. You may also miss the strong bond of your unit.


  • Take time to get to know your co-workers. Go to work-related events or organize a social, community service, or networking activity.

2. Boredom

You may have a hard time finding meaning in your work. For example, assignments in the civilian workplace can seem insignificant compared to the urgency of combat or the importance of day-to-day military operations.


  • Learn background information about why your company was started. Find out how you contribute to the overall mission.
  • Look for roles that are in line with your personal goals and will give you a sense of purpose. Use the leadership skills that you learned in the military to help shape the future direction of your team or organization.

3.  Over-Use of Survival Tactics
Survival strategies such as heightened awareness and a need for constant control may have helped keep you safe during a deployment. However, these battlefield skills could negatively impact you in the work place. You may find yourself feeling on-edge or distracted by harmless noises and movements.


  • Be open to letting your guard down and recognize that you are in a safe place.
  • Share your feelings with those you trust. They may be able to help you work through feelings of anxiety.

Strategies to Reduce the Effects of Stress

Learning to maintain control during stressful situations can allow you to be at your best while on the job. Here are some strategies to try on your own:

Resources for Seeking Care

The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE)

  • Log on to Real Warriors Live Chat or call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to speak confidentially with a trained health resource consultant 24/7 for resources on managing stress and transitioning into a civilian career.

Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines (REALifelines)
Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service

Vet Centers Readjustment Counseling Service
Department of Veterans Affairs

Additional Resources

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