How to Deal With Social Stress

How to Deal With Social Stress at Work When You Have Complex PTSD

by Adam Appleson


age-well.org > reduce stress > social stress


So what is social stress and complex PTSD

When guests at a Wisconsin Hampton Inn complained loudly about mooing cows, a clerk went out and milked them. The guests slept soundly that night. If only you could find a hotel clerk to "milk" away the social stress you've been feeling at work, it would make it a lot easier for you to heal from complex PTSD.

Social stress in this case is stress activated by your social environment. Typical examples of social stress in the workplace include holiday parties, employee reviews, and office politics.

Complex PTSD is shorthand for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. People who suffer from complex PTSD can have mood swings, out-of-control emotions, dissociation ("numbing" or feeling detached from yourself), alterations in your feelings toward other people, and loss of meaning in your life.

How does complex PTSD increase social stress?

Because someone suffering from complex PTSD can have a varied array of symptoms, it makes it harder for them to respond in socially appropriate ways sometimes.

Obviously, this can have an impact on the way you function in the workplace. And it may cause your co-workers not to respond in favorable ways - causing you undue stress.

So how do you deal with social stress at work if you have PTSD so it doesn't impact your job?

  • Get a therapist (or another supportive person or persons).
    A cognitive-behavioral therapist can help you sort out your feelings and help you learn how to deal with stressful situations at work, while coping with PTSD. According to a wide array of studies, cognitive-behavioral therapy is a highly effective treatment that produces a 60 to 80% reduction in PTSD symptoms.

  • Be aware of your triggers and adjust your work environment accordingly.
    For example, if having a plant in your cubicle helps you relax as you work, put one there. If you have a co-worker that is stressing you out, work with your support system (i.e., therapist) to figure out a strategy to deal with them.

  • Try to have a balanced life outside of work.
    Jogging, swimming, basketball, and other physical activities can provide meaningful social engagement and help you relieve stress.

    Dealing with social stress at work when you have complex PTSD isn't easy

    But what if you can't adjust your social stress at work to help you heal from PTSD?
    You may have to consider finding another less stressful job or working part-time while you deal with your complex PTSD. It's a strategy you'll have to discuss with your support network or therapist because everyone's situation - both financially and psychologically - will be different.

    Case-study: Larry

    Larry worked 12 hour days at his office as a marketing manager. Plus, he was always bringing work home with him on the weekends. All this work left him little time for a balanced life and wasn't helping him heal from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Finally, working with his therapist, Larry decided the best solution for him was to slash expenses and find a part-time job that would enable him to relax more and work less, as well as truly taking the time to heal.


    But you can do it. Find a therapist, change your environment, and try to create a balanced life. It may not be as easy as having a hotel clerk milk a cow for you, but the long term payoff to your sanity will be worth it.


    Author Bio: Adam Appleson is the founder of the child abuse recovery website, ZenTactics. He helps survivors learn to change their lives with articles like Why Learning How to Make Friends Can Help Ease the Feelings of Emptiness Caused By Child Abuse.


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