Getting back to work safely & managing your anxiety

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, our collective anxiety levels rose sharply. Every day we hear news about how it’s spreading and the number of deaths. There was global chaos. Then the lockdown started, and many people lost their jobs. Some of us were lucky enough to be able to work from home. Times were difficult, but somehow we managed to pull through. Our anxiety began to subside.

But just as we were starting to get accustomed to our new reality, governments around the world began lifting restrictions, and our employers informed us that we needed to come back to the office. Understandably, this has caused a new spike in anxiety levels, and reports show what impact this has had on people’s mental health.

The anxiety we experience has a lot to do with uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re not sure if we can keep ourselves safe, so we stay up at night worrying and playing different scenarios in our minds. In this article, we will talk about what we can do to cope with this transition.

Ease your anxiety through precautionary measures

Although you still have to cope with a certain amount of uncertainty, there are some things you can control. Instead of playing catastrophic scenarios in your mind which, although tempting, doesn’t really help, you can think about what you can do to keep yourself safe in public.

You can plan your commute and decide what protective gear and cleaning supplies you should get. Then you can think about how you’re going to interact with your co-workers and how you can have lunch at work while minimising risks.

Something as simple as packing your work bag and laying out your clothes the night before will give you a greater sense of control which will help ease your anxiety. We also recommend that you give yourself enough time in the morning. Having to rush to get to work on time can increase your anxiety.

Talk to your employer

If you have concerns, you don’t need to keep them to yourself. Right now, employers are also assessing the risks and taking measures to keep their staff safe. Having a conversation with them about it can help you put your mind at ease. They can give you information about how they’ve adapted the workplace to the current circumstances. They’ll probably tell you about how face-masks are available and required on-site, how desks will be six feet apart, ventilation, cleaning supplies and staggered schedules.

Keep in mind that working remotely may still be an option. Ask your employer if you can still work from home at least part of the time. Even one or two days per week can make the transition less stressful.

Take your symptoms seriously

If you’ve noticed that your anxiety doesn’t seem to subside or on the contrary, it seems to worsen, we recommend that you take your symptoms seriously.

People with pre-existing anxiety disorders or depression are particularly vulnerable right now. For instance, we’re advised to wash our hands frequently, which can be triggering for someone with OCD. No matter if you experience anxiety every day or only once in a while, if you feel that this is having a negative impact on your mood and health, you can get mental health support through online therapy.

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