If you are feeling at all apprehensive about returning to the physical workplace, the following strategies will help you manage the ‘fear factor’ and set yourself up for as smooth – and stress free- a transition as possible.
- Be cognoscente of your emotional state
First up, it’s okay not to feel 100% okay. Only when you own your fears can you avoid them owning you. Emotional mastery begins self-awareness, tuning into whatever emotions you’re feeling.
- Take the “Unknowns” out of day one
Familiarity reduces fear. Unknowns amplify it.
The anticipation of what it’s going to be like can cause more stress than your actual experience of it. So, if all the unknowns of what work will look like when you go back have your head spinning, be proactive in reducing them. One idea is to try doing a few trial runs and visit the workplace without having to work. The more that you put yourself in the situation you’re worrying about, the better your body will be.
- Prepare for feeling ‘lost in the familiar’
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 and will require extra mental energy to adapt to and process. So as you readjust in the first few days and weeks, prepare yourself to arrive home much more exhausted than you think you should.
- Short-circuit stress from spiraling downward
Stress internalizes in the body – a clenched jaw, headaches, shoulder or back pain, shallow breathing, chest tightness, fidgeting. So, the faster you can identify your stress signals, the sooner you can intervene.
- Prioritize routines and self-care rituals
As your workday routine changes, be creative in maintaining those parts of your day that have nurtured a sense of wellbeing over the pandemic. For instance, if you’ve started your daily work from home routine with an online yoga class, consider a yoga class during your lunch break.
If this pandemic has taught us anything it is that life is too precious not to be lived to the fullest. So take a deep breath and ENJOY your first day back in the office.