How to ease your way back into work after lockdown

As we look to gradually transition out of lockdown in the UK, there is a lot to think about at home and at work.

Lockdown has affected us all in different ways and it’s perfectly normal to feel hesitant about life going back to ‘normal’. You may be feeling confused and worried about what to expect and slightly apprehensive about going back into your workplace.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique and however we approach this transition there isn’t a one fits all solution, but there are some general principles that may help give you the best chance of staying mentally healthy over the coming months.

1) Ask the right questions
If you’re returning to work you will likely be facing uncertainties about your overall way of working, navigating unfamiliar working practices and incorporating new rules and may have concerns around personal safety or changes to the remit of your role.

As humans, we find uncertainty hard to tolerate and to reduce this discomfort, we tend to fill in the blanks with our own narratives. That’s why it’s important if your employer isn’t giving you clear lines of communication to ask the questions you need to know so you can fill the blanks with facts and have a clearer idea of what to expect upon your return.

2) Share your feelings
Although working from home presented challenges, it also introduced us to new freedoms and flexibilities that come with remote working – home-cooked lunches, extra hours’ sleep, more time with loved ones and being able to live in comfortable clothes like loungewear.

As such, returning to the workplace will bring inevitable losses which we will need to adapt to again.

Ways to overcome these losses are to normalise that it’s okay to have mixed feelings about returning to work – why not try to share how you’re feeling with colleagues to encourage discussion in the workplace? Or speak to your employer to find out whether you can retain some of the freedoms. Lots of employers are understanding the challenges we are facing returning to work and are willing to be more flexible.

3) Be kind to yourself
It’s ok to feel uncertain. This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone.
Don’t try to go from 1 to 100 on your first week back at work. Make sure you give yourself time to adjust and get into a new routine again – keep things simple at first and try not to overwhelm yourself by taking every day one step at a time.

4) Maintain a good routine

At a time when things appear to be constantly changing, try to maintain a structure to your day.

Schedule in your day-to-day activities including work, food shopping, walks and maybe exercise, but also make sure to schedule in moments that will make you happy and distract yourself from your anxieties.

5) Learn positive coping methods
Before you head back to work why not create a series of mantras or affirmations that you can have ready to help manage anxiety. Positive self-talk can help you to move past any negative or anxious thoughts you may have about returning to work.

Some to think about include:
– I can do this
– I am strong and I can get through difficult times
– It’s okay to feel like this

This kind of self-talk can help you recognise positives in your life and overcome negative thoughts.

Learning to breathe during anxious moments is also important to help manage the symptoms of anxiety. Make sure that your stomach expands as you take in each breath and try to breathe in for four seconds, then hold for three seconds before breathing out for six seconds.

However, if you feel your anxiety symptoms are having a dramatic impact on your life, it’s important that you seek professional support. Sometimes we just need that extra bit of help to manage our symptoms.

At Pall Mall, we offer private GP appointments for all ages. Click here for more information or call us on 0161 3940310.

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