How to Cope with Returning-to-the-Office Anxiety

Office stress

After more than a year of remote working, the idea of returning to your office might be filling you with anxiety and stress, but there are steps you can take to minimize your uneasy feelings.

Of course, getting your COVID-19 vaccine is the first step you should take to protect yourself and others if you are returning to an in-person workplace. Additional steps to take to address your return anxiety, according to HuffPo's experts, include:

Discuss Your Options with Your Employer

If you have been successfully working remotely, HuffPo suggests speaking with your manager/employer about continuing to work from home and suggest not asking for a permanent remote assignment, in case your employer needs the option of a hybrid model or needs to change it down the line.

Ask about Workplace Safety

If you are feeling unsure about returning to work, HuffPo's experts suggest checking in with your employer about the number of people who will be there, what safety measures will be implemented, if there will be staggered schedules for co-workers, if masks will be required and whether vaccination proof will be required for people to return to work.

Take Notice and Acknowledge Your Anxiety and Stress

Remember, it is perfectly normal and expected to not feel great about having to return to your workplace after more than a year of working from home. Work coach Margie Warrell tells HuffPo, “That’s not to say you should dwell on what makes you anxious, but acknowledge all emotions as legitimate. But the truth is, only when you own your fears can you avoid them owning you. Emotional mastery begins with self-awareness, by tuning into whatever emotions you’re feeling.”

Take Baby Socializing Steps before Your Return

If you have been home and distanced from others (and if you are now fully vaccinated for COVID) the experts suggest taking some small steps and socializing and interacting with family and friends before going back to your workplace. First, try seeing people outdoors and then progress into indoor activities with other fully vaccinated individuals.

Connect with Co-Workers You Enjoy and Focus On What You Are Looking Forward to Returning to Work

HuffPo's work coach expert suggests, “Invite co-workers to share what you’re looking forward to and how you’ll make it fun. Connection builds resilience so even before you return to the office. Once you’re back, make a point of having fun and find light-hearted ways to laugh about the transition, including the frustrations."

Pace Yourself as You Return and Continue with the Self-Care Routines You Established

If you created self-care rituals or routines during the pandemic, the experts suggest continuing them as your head back to the office. If your work will accommodate something like your afternoon walk, it will be important to keep taking these walks or getting that afternoon coffee or tea in order to make the transition easier. Margie tells HuffPo you may return from the office feeling more tired than you did previously. “While it may only take a few seconds each time to adjust to the new protocols ― temperature screenings, social distancing, mask-wearing ― many will find the initial arrival mentally jarring because it’s not what we’ve been conditioned to experience. It will require extra mental energy to adapt to and process. Allow yourself that.”

If you are able to continue to work from home, make sure your at-home workplace is equipped with the essentials you need for optimal health.

More: Ask an Expert: The Quick Meditation to Relieve Your Stress

More: 2 Steps to Unwind Your Anxiety and Worry

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