As you come back to work after lockdown, it’s normal to feel anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.
As humans, we often find change uncomfortable.
You might be anxious about doing your job again after a break.
You might be worried about being more at risk of catching COVID by coming into contact with more people.
Maybe you feel anxious about having less control over your environment than you do when you’re at home.
Having a commute and a time that you need to be at work might be more stressful.
You might feel a bit tense being on display and not being able to work in your pyjama bottoms.
It’s a big lifestyle change.
Here are some signs that you are feeling anxious:
- Not sleeping well, either not being able to get to sleep, waking up in the night or waking up early.
- Repetitive negative thoughts
- Tension in the shoulders, jaw or stomach
- Shallow breathing
- Faster heart rate
- Trying to distract yourself with food, drink, or social media
- Being snappy, or short tempered.
What’s happening is your nervous system thinks there is an imminent threat to your survival and is preparing for and scanning for danger.
There are some simple things you can do to calm this natural response.
- We often judge ourselves for how we feel, which makes us feel worse.Tell yourself it’s okay to feel like this.
- Ease yourself in gradually — don’t take on too much into your first week.
- If you’re worried about COVID, ask your employer for more details about what they’re doing to make your office COVID safe
- Exercise and or meditate before work. Doing something positive for your mind and body will help you arrive feeling on top form.
- Take it easy in the evening, read, have a bath.
- Have an early night. Practice good sleep hygiene, like turning off screens an hour before bed, and having softer lighting in the evening. Reduce alcohol consumption. Having more sleep will give you more energy and a clearer mind.
- Remind yourself of the positives of going back to work like seeing your colleagues, having more of a separation between work and life creating a routine. Imagine getting back into the office being a really positive experience.
- Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating well. My biscuit and ice cream consumption skyrocketed over lockdown.
- Use breathing exercises like this one to calm yourself down.
- Ask for support. Have lunch with a colleague on your first day. If things are feeling very unmanageable, you could speak to your GP and ask what support is available at work. You could also contact Mind or Samaritans.
In summary, be gentle, kind and patient with yourself. This is a big transition so it’s really important to practice self-care.