After more than a year of remote work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have begun to reopen their offices. Some love the idea of collaborating with colleagues in-person and swapping their makeshift home office for a dedicated workspace. However, those folks are in the minority. A recent survey of 1,000 full and part time employees found that two-thirds of workers say they’re worried about the transition. Working from home provided people with a way to continue to earn a living without risking exposure to COVID-19. Many employees fear that they’ll be less safe if they’re forced to commute on public transportation and spend eight hours a day in close quarters with colleagues again. Not to mention, for many parents and caregivers, this means more time away from the family and children that you’ve spent so much time with the last year.
For many, returning to the office can be a source of a lot of anxiety. One psychiatrist as some helpful tips for those who are experiencing anxiety about returning to the office.
Speak with your employer. When people worry, it is typically related to uncertainties or the unknown. Many people who are returning to work are worried about catching coronavirus when they do so, or spreading the virus amongst family and friends if they become infected at work.
At this moment in time, many employers are carrying out risk assessments and taking clear steps to make sure workspaces are safe. So speak with your manager or employer and get as much information as you can about how the workspace will be adapted and how people will move around within it.
Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to feel uncertain and distressed. This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone. Don’t try to go from 0 to 100 on your first day back. You need to get used to a new routine once again, which can take some time. Keep things simple at first, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. As humans, we can find change difficult, so you won’t be alone in dealing with anxiety about going back to work.
Maintain a healthy daily routine. Scheduling in moments of happiness, and embracing the good things in our lives, can be a great mental health boost as well as a welcome distraction from our anxieties. During the hours when you’re not in work, or in the run-up to you returning to work, spend time doing activities that you really enjoy, and make sure you do them regularly.
Learn positive coping tactics. When you start to feel incredibly anxious, you may find that your breath quickens, which causes your heart to beat faster, and leads to you feeling dizzy, disorientated and even more anxious than before. Breathing techniques can help you relax, focus and quiet your mind. Here is one breathing technic to try;
- Breathe in for four seconds
- Hold your breath for three seconds
- Breathe out for six seconds
Seek help. If your anxiety continues to have a dramatic impact on your life, or seems to worsen over time, it is important that you seek professional help & support.