Combatting Post-Lockdown Back-to-Work Nerves
As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, and we take steps closer to our pre-pandemic lives, businesses are starting to open up, so some of us may be heading back to our workplaces. Or perhaps you started your job during lockdown, so haven’t yet been to your office or met your team in person. Many of us have been working from home for over a year now, so it is completely understandable that there may be some nerves about going back to work. Whether it’s slight social anxiety, concerns about the safety of your commute or working environment, or worries about doing your job again, adapting to this change could be challenging. We all remember that feeling of the first day back at school after the summer holidays, when you have to get used to your new teachers, classes and schedules again! Here are some tips for helping calm those nerves, allowing you to comfortably settle in back at work.
Speak to someone
It might be a good idea to let your line manager know if you are nervous about going back to work. They may be able to ease your concerns by explaining the provisions in place to keep your workplace Covid safe, from regular testing and social distancing to hygiene protocols. There may also be other ways to help you settle back in, such as gradually easing you in by starting back in the office just a couple of days a week, shift patterns to avoid overcrowding, or changing your working hours to avoid peak times on public transport.
You could also have a chat with your work colleagues or friends to see how they are feeling, and what they are doing to help themselves settle back in. Most people are probably feeling exactly the same as you! If you haven’t been to the workplace before, have a chat with your manager or colleagues and ask what to expect, where to go and what to bring. You’ll likely have some sort of induction on your first day, so don’t worry about that!
If you’re already feeling a little nervous, the last thing you need is to be rushing around on the morning of your first day at work. Try to be as organised as possible:
- Get back into your pre lockdown sleeping pattern and work routine. Perhaps you’ve been having later nights and more of a lie in when wfh, so try to get back to your old normal.
- Get your outfit ready the night before – you might be used to wearing your PJ’s all day, at least on the bottom half, so dig out those work clothes and get them ready for the morning so there’s one less thing to worry about.
- Pack your bag. Don’t forget your work pass or keys, glasses, mask, hand sanitiser, water bottle, lunch, snacks, bus pass, your favourite mug, notepad, pens or anything else you might need!
- Write a to do list for your working day so you don’t feel lost. If you have been furloughed and not working for a while, it is a good idea to remind yourself of your daily tasks, working protocols or any rules and regulations to help you settle straight back in.
- Check your commute/route for any changes in public transport schedules or road closures. Consider leaving earlier than usual to avoid running late.
- Try and relax the night before – whether that’s taking a long bath, playing sport or watching a film, do whatever calms you and helps you get a good night’s sleep.
Remind yourself of the positives
Think about all the good aspects of returning to work, like getting back into a routine with proper boundaries between your work and home life, having that sense of purpose, and catching up with colleagues again.
Be kind to yourself
Take it slowly, as it’s unrealistic to expect everything to return to ‘normal’ straight away. You’re bound to feel a little nervous and things may not go perfectly on your first day. You might even feel exhausted now that the commute has been added back into your working day. But just remember, you will get used to it! Hopefully, the change of scenery may help get you motivated and enthused for your job and working as a team face-to-face might spark creativity! Enjoy seeing and socialising with your work friends and regaining a little of the freedom we have lost since the pandemic began!
If your anxiety is starting to feel overwhelming, talk to someone or seek advice from your GP or a charity such as Mind or CALM.
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