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While the prospect of society edging closer and closer to the normality of pre-covid life is an exciting thought for so many of us, it is also important to acknowledge that for many this may be a somewhat daunting or overwhelming time. Over the past year life as we knew it changed sharply and drastically, and consequently we were all forced to adapt to a new way of living. For many, this meant leaving the familiarity of the work environment, and either working from home or being placed onto furlough. Now that offices, shops, pubs and many other amenities are beginning to reopen, and workers are encouraged or required to return to their workplace, we asked some of our therapists for their advice on how to process returners anxiety.
Remember it is really normal to experience anxiety during times of change, particularly if someone has been working from home for over a year, going back to the office will represent a big change and is likely to feel anxiety provoking at first. So, try to normalise and validate any anxiety you experience, and try to be kind to yourself. Plan an easier week and recognise you might be more tired the first week due to the increase in commuting and socialising, so to plan some nice, relaxed evenings and self-care as needed. – Georgie Heath
The workplace may feel vastly different and expecting everything to go back to ‘normal’ can set up disappointment. It will be good to start talking to a colleague you feel comfortable with; maybe share how Covid was for you. If you have been ill or even lost a friend or family member, let people know you have some sensitivity around the subject. You may want to ask for extra protection around your desk or the communal area in the office, so be aware It could take time to settle back in. Everyone will feel different as people have different views and personalities- know your boundaries! – Steff Roeg
While there are many obvious downsides to commuting, the physical journey may allow us to separate our work self from home, and that may be useful. The way the lockdown has eroded our work/life boundaries has been one of the biggest challenges of working from home. So, travelling may bring some unexpected benefits. If you want to leave the work stresses behind, you may think about how you make the work-home transition. When you get home from work, maybe changing into different clothes or leaving your work bag tucked away. If you’re still thinking about work when you are at home, you might try writing those thoughts down and putting the notepad aside until you are next in work. – Martyn Bignold
People need first to feel ready to go back to the face-to-face working, but also keep in mind that we still need to keep some distance as the problem is not over yet. Keeping the basic distance and precaution measures (such as disinfecting, open windows, social distancing), are key elements to uphold upon returning. – Maria Kardassi
Finally, my “advice” lies somewhere between 2 separate quotes from Freud:”One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” and “To be completely honest with oneself is the very best effort a human being can make.” – Dr Jonathan Moult
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