BY ANDREW MCDONALD
In every negative, there is a positive. For many people the plus point of covid lockdown and restrictions was being able to work from home. More time with families or for leisure activities, no need to endure the challenges of travelling. If that hasn’t already come to an abrupt end for everyone, the move back to the office isn’t far away now.
If you were one of those who got used to remote working, how do you feel about returning to the workplace? Excited to soon be mixing with colleagues again? Or anxious about having to dress up and leave the safety of your home?
The flexibility and freedom of working from your home will be hard to give up for many. The thought of losing them is bound to increase worrying.
That said, there have been reports of WFH (Working From Home) burnout, people feeling under pressure to endure longer working hours and a difficulty in separating work and pleasure. All of that has a detrimental effect on mental health. Returning to the office may, therefore, not be all bad!
As social creatures, humans crave contact with others. That is likely to be another plus point of returning to the workplace.
What should you do if you’re struggling with the anxiety of that return to normality though? The first thing experts suggest is to familiarise yourself with the health and safety policies in your workplace. These should cover important issues such as keeping workers safe during a pandemic and managing stress caused by work and the office environment.
Another important task is getting back into a routine. Facing into a long day at the office when you haven’t slept properly is particularly unpleasant. Getting back into the rhythm of going to bed at a suitable time will help as will avoiding caffeine in the hours before putting your head down for the night.
Believe it or not, physical exercise is great for reducing stress! Even walking for 15 minutes can make a big difference. So can meditation. Just remember to be self-compassionate and avoid overdoing it.
Even though it may be difficult if the return to the office is looming like a dark shadow, try to focus on the positives. Getting back to the workplace means meeting with colleagues again, some of whom may be your friends. Escaping from the house was in itself a goal for many during the most restrictive periods of lockdown! Talking is proven to be extremely effective in dealing with stress and seeing others again is an opportunity to do just this.
Always remember that if stress and anxiety become unbearable or stay with you for a longer period of time, you should ask your GP or another health professional for support. It isn’t weak to ask for help. In fact, admitting you’re struggling is the bravest thing you can do.