As restrictions start to ease, more and more employees are returning to the workplace, no doubt with anxious feelings, questions, and possible concerns. Feeling dread and uncertainty is perfectly normal…
Will my co-workers be wearing masks?
Will we maintain social distancing?
How will we readjust to being away from home where it has been safe while quarantining for the past year?
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that it is normal to feel anxious right now, we went from working remotely to avoid groups of people to an accelerated reopening of the state. It is going to take time to adjust and be comfortable in this re-entry process; the following strategies may help managing back to work anxiety:
Take time to visit the workplace prior to returning to work. This may help reduce the anticipatory anxiety and stress you are feeling. Often the more we avoid a situation, the harder it can be to return to it.
Recognize what makes you feel safe and comfortable at home and try to translate that into your work environment.
Practice mindfulness – do a body scan from head to toe; mentally scanning yourself, you bring awareness to every single part of your body, noticing any aches, pains, tension, or general discomfort.
Visualization – form peaceful and inspiring pictures in your mind; imagine yourself succeeding in feeling calm and relaxed in your work environment.
Progressive muscle relaxation – practicing progressively tightening and then relaxing the muscles of your body can help you learn to better control the tension.
Challenge anxious thoughts – ask yourself if you are being realistic, are you thinking the worst-case scenario? Challenge these thoughts with more realistic ones to calm your feelings of anxiety.
Take one day at a time; do what needs to get done today and take care of tomorrow when it comes, tomorrow.
If you continue to worry about returning to the workplace, contact JFCS during daily drop-in hours to discuss other techniques that may be helpful. 609-987-8100.
Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC