The covid 19 pandemic has completely altered our working and daily lives. There has not been an industry that has not been impacted this past year, and we have all been collectively displaced in the way we work. Most of us have had to be out of the workplace for the past 15 months, and although a lot of us have adapted and have found our new reality, in the coming months, as we continue an increase in covid 19 vaccine rollout as well as lower daily covid 19 numbers we are moving towards returning to work in the office.
For many of us, returning to work anxiety is a real feeling. How do we change again? Where do we start? For some of us, we have completely forgotten how to relate to others. Our communication skills have suffered as we have toiled through working using virtual platforms to communicate. Our experts help many of our clients by coaching them through social phobias or anxieties, or simply getting a tune-up to re-connect skills to speak in front of others. If you would like to book an appointment with us, feel free to connect with us: https://www.psychcompany.com/
We understand that this is a really transitional time so we have developed this quick guide with tips on what to do and what to consider when creating a Back to Work plan. Take a look.
Preparing a plan for returning to the workplace
Reflect on how you feel about your work now, having gone through covid 19. Take a moment to review how you are feeling about our work. Some essential questions to ask would be:
- Is the workload manageable?
- Do my team and manager support me?
- Do I have a normal work-life balance?
- Has working from home impacted your life positively or negatively?
These questions are important to consider to reflect on your work culture and what you may need to adjust as you begin returning to work in the office. It is an excellent time to talk about what is and is not working. Creating an organized thought process can help calm an agitated mind because you can pinpoint the problem areas and start to target solutions.
Is the return to the workplace time-sensitive?
Another question to ask is how your workplace is implementing the return to the office as we approach the end of covid 19? Will everyone have to go back during the same week? Can there be a short period for a slow transition, or are there options for a hybrid model? For some of us, we are ready to get back and out of our houses. For other people, the weight of more change can cause natural anxiety; speaking to your manager to develop a plan can be helpful. Transitions for a lot of people are trigger points for stress and anxiety. Taking the initiative and control in this situation can be very helpful to gain confidence in the case.
Are you holding any anxiety and/or stress about your return?
It is helpful, to be honest, and check-in with your feelings about your return to work. You may have some fears and anxiety about returning to the workplace after working from home during the covid 19 pandemic. If you have anxiety or stress, it is important to acknowledge it and consider ways to help yourself manage this transition. Here are a few self-care actions that you may implement right now.
Whether it is a guided meditation or a 5-minute morning body scan, the power of connecting body and mind through deep breathing can release tension, decrease high blood pressure, and promote happy feelings.
A new routine of taking daily breaks to go out for a nature walk. Walking and spending more time in nature is helpful for mental health, offering visual calm. The sounds and interactions with nature are a natural de-stressor, and walking is a great way to exercise and use the senses to get out of one’s head.
Ensuring that you have a positive sleep routine. Getting between 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is important to deal with good mental health. If you are not getting the rest that you need, do a bedroom audit to make any adjustments required, like setting the temperature to 16-20 degrees celsius, making sure to have dark curtains so that the room is as dark as possible to develop serotonin, reducing caffeine before bed, as well as having comfortable clothing and pillow. Did you know that the lifespan of a pillow is just 1-2 years?
Create a healthy diet filled with antioxidants like berries and leafy green vegetables to stay away from highly processed foods and saturated fats. A healthy diet helps you feel better and sleep better, making stressful moments easier to handle. If this is an area that is problematic, working with a dietician can help develop a diet plan. Trying a replacement diet can also be an easy transition, replacing foods one at a time until you have achieved a healthy level. The most important point to maintain is to make small, long-lasting changes.
Contact family and friends and sharing with them what you are going through is another way to obtain support and reflection. Talking about our problems allows us to get our thoughts out of our heads and gain insights from other perspectives. Feeling a sense of connection and bonding helps to feel cared for and enhances self-esteem during difficult times.
Connect with colleagues
Another group to connect with is your colleagues. Your colleagues probably share your work anxieties, and they are going through a similar situation. Sharing your concerns with colleagues can be helpful to gain further insight into this transition and help make you feel supported about returning to the workplace.
Talk to your doctor
Speak to your family doctor and share any symptoms regarding your return to work anxiety. They may share a risk assessment and further review any questions that you may have about the virus. This can be a great way to relieve concerns pertaining to the actual virus, reducing fear and anxiety.
Develop a list of what you need to go back to the workplace
If your office requires you to be in person quickly and you are willing to start on their required date, a helpful approach is to make a list of what you may need to make the transition more comfortable. Some things to consider would be:
- Stay informed, learn what the company’s covid return to work policies are?
- Look for resources to inform what the office’s cleaning practices will be?
- Can meetings be done virtually to minimize the interaction between groups?
- Inform yourself whether there have been any changes to the sick day’s policies?
- Plan ahead. Is there flexibility in scheduling?
- Seek general information for mental health support. Are they offering any mental wellness support?
Set up a meeting with your employers
Speaking to management can be difficult for many of us. Feelings of vulnerability, guilt, or shame are normal but can impede our ability, to be honest in our discussions. Everyone likes to feel that in business, they are hard-working, ambitious, and reliable. Sometimes when we need something, it can feel challenging to ask. However, it is essential to be honest with your employer about what you need to ensure that you make the right decisions for yourself and take care of your mental health and well-being. Before your meeting, here is a list of items to have prepared to ensure that your conversation is positive and productive.
- Make a list of the items you wish to discuss with your employer and highlight important points to remember for reflection after the conversation is over.
- Rehearse the points you want to discuss, especially the points that might feel more difficult to talk about. Using visualization may be a good tool. As you rehearse, visualize the outcome that you would like to occur. Creating this positive experience in your mind will help you ease these parts of the conversation.
- Avoid setting the call with your employer at the beginning or end of the week as the person might be distracted by starting their week or getting home.
- Stay open in the conversation, and practice active listening.
- Write down important points to return to for reflection.
- If you are uncomfortable making decisions on the spot, it is ok to let them know that you will take a few days to think and get back to them.
- Lastly, always try to end the conversation on a positive note, thanking your employer for their time. No matter what the outcomes of the discussions, feeling gratitude and showing kindness offer opportunity in any interaction.
Consider working with a clinical psychologist.
In some cases where the global pandemic has made work incredibly stressful and going back to the office seems like an impossible feat. In other cases working from home has become a better lifestyle change, reducing the commute, being more available to immediate family, and the fear of going back to the workplace is wreaking havoc on some people’s mental health. In both cases, it is good to seek professional help to share concerns about returning to work and develop a plan with support and tools to gain support for the next transition more easily. A therapist can help with the following things:
- Develop effective communication strategies
- Work through emotional and mental health problems you might be struggling with
- Eliminate stress, develop peace of mind, and train your focus
- Enhance the way that you perceive opportunities and improve the quality of your life
- Help to develop ways to manage stress and anxiety
More than ever, we are all taking our mental health more seriously, and working with a therapist can offer the support and help that we require during covid 19. Connect with us anytime to learn more about our services and how we can best help you to return to work without feeling overwhelmed or feeling anxious.
For more information, go to www.psychcompany.com