Are you anxious about the plans to reopen your workplace?
Most of us agree that we need to open our countries’ economic engines, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t nervous about returning to work, even if it’s part-time.
It’s okay to feel anxious. It’s okay to worry about your health. It’s okay to be not-okay.
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However, it isn’t acceptable to judge others who are anxious about what our future looks like.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a real and potentially serious medical condition. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), anxiety disorder is the most common and pervasive mental health disorder in the United States. As many as 40 million Americans (nearly one in five) have anxiety disorders.
I expect that this pandemic has added to this statistic, as many people worry about their future office and working conditions. Whether or not you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or are feeling anxious for any reason about returning to work, we need to be able to cope. No one wants to stay in their house forever, but it is understandable to be nervous about returning to work, especially if you don’t feel safe about it yet.
Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety about your future back-to-work plans:
- Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. You are anxious because you care about your health and the health of your coworkers, and that is a good thing. Don’t feel the need to explain or apologize about your feelings. Give yourself permission to be anxious and don’t feel the need to hide your anxiety. If you are comfortable telling others you are anxious, do so, and don’t feel bad about it. I’m pretty sure that once you say that you are suffering from anxiety, many others will be quick to say, “Me too.”
- Stay informed. If you know what your company is planning to enable social distancing, to prepare the building, and to reduce touchpoints, then you can prepare yourself about what to expect. If you know that the rules will stipulate one person at a time in the elevator, you don’t have to be anxious about taking the elevator to the 23rd If you know that only every third cubicle will be occupied, you don’t have to worry about someone in the cubicle beside you sneezing. By knowing what to expect, you can assure yourself that you will be as safe as possible. Ask questions so you can become informed.
- Set boundaries. Know what you are comfortable with and where the line is for you. For instance, if the guidelines stipulate that there can only be one person at a time in the elevator, be prepared to get off the elevator if someone else enters it. Or be ready to ask the person to wait for the next one. Set your boundaries in advance and be prepared to act on them. Knowing what you will say and do in various situations will help to reduce your anxiety about people ignoring the guidelines because you will know how to get yourself out of situations safely.
- Focus on your health. We know the importance of exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep. Anxiety can potentially impact a healthy lifestyle. Ensure you aren’t becoming lax with your health because you are worried. Sleepless nights are to be expected as your start date approaches but otherwise, ensure you go into the transition as healthy as you possibly can.
[ctt template=”10″ link=”lQj2s” via=”yes” ]Four tips to help you manage your anxiety about your future back-to-work plans.[/ctt]
We don’t know what our new normal world will look like yet and it’s completely understandable to feel anxious about it. But doing something about what you are experiencing is the best way you can safely and confidently integrate yourself back to work when the time comes.