5 Tips To Help Manage Your Anxiety About Going Back To Work

Updated October 8, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

As more and more people get vaccinated, more and more employers are requesting that their workers return to the workplace. However, a lot of people have anxiety about going back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anxiety About Returning To Work ls Stressful, But You Are Not Alone

There are many reasons that it can cause anxiety, but there are also things you can do to manage those fears and worries you face.

What Causes Anxiety About Returning To Work?

If you are just now being asked to return to work, then you have likely been cooped up for over a year. Even if you haven’t been in lockdown, you probably haven’t left your home as much as you would have if you had been going to work every day.

Humans are social, and relationships are important for overall health and well-being. Some research indicates that social relationships can help you manage your stress levels and reduce your risk of depression and self-isolation.

When we are asked to return to work, our brain may be so used to the isolation and lack of social interaction that it sparks fear and anxiety. Returning to in-person meetings, watercooler socialization, and office politics can be overwhelming. This is especially true for people who already struggle with some form of social anxiety.

In addition, the fear of COVID-19 itself can spark anxiety about being around so many people in an indoor office or another workplace. There are new variants, and even if you are vaccinated, there may still be some fear of contracting a virus that has proved to be deadly. If the workplace does not require everyone to be vaccinated or wear masks, there may be an even greater fear of the coronavirus.

Changes can also impact anxiety. There may be lingering questions about the change from the flexibility of working at home to the structure of working at the office. You may even be worried about changes that will be implemented since the last time you had to show up.

Plus, if you were furloughed or laid off in 2020, there may be some anxieties about a new job because you want to ensure that you are financially stable. Finally, will the workplace implement changes to ensure that you are safe and have the time to readjust to work away from home?

Many are developing and implementing new guidelines that you may have to learn to follow. If you like working from home, there may be concerns about your well-being and free time after adding a commute and structured work hours to your routine.

All of these things contribute to a rise in anxiety for those who are returning to work. It is common to worry about it after so many months without going to the office.

Tips For Managing Anxiety About Returning To Work

While there may not be a way to avoid going back to work, there are things that can help you ease and cope with the anxiety. Check out these tips to help you adapt to the new normal with reduced anxiety.

  1. Therapy

While therapy is not for everyone, it can be an effective way to reduce anxiety.  Therapy can treat both the symptoms of your anxiety and the underlying thoughts and worries that are problematic.

There are tons of different therapy methods that could be beneficial. A therapist can help you learn relaxation techniques to help you cope with distressing symptoms as they begin to rise. You can also work to examine and address negative thoughts that you can then replace with healthier alternatives.

Finally, therapy can also help you change your behavior to serve your mental health better. A good therapist can address negative thoughts and behaviors directly related to the anxiety of returning to work and any other mental health concerns you have. Take a look below at some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues.

“Brenna has been very helpful to work with. She takes the time to listen and always offers practical coping skills for dealing with stressful situations. Even though we've only had two sessions she has helped me with getting back to work and coping with my anxiety around that.” 

Learn More About Brenna McColm

  1. Take Care Of Yourself

Taking care of yourself can be an easy way to reduce anxiety and improve mental health. Things like sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy diet can be incredibly important for well-being.

Sometimes our anxieties can get in the way of taking care of ourselves. If you are concerned and worried about returning to work, then you probably don’t even want to think about going to the gym. Plus, stress can cause unhealthy eating habits and sleep loss.

However, it is possible to easily make healthy choices in our lives. Try to add a fruit or vegetables to each meal and set a sleep schedule to follow every night. Avoid screens close to bedtime and only use your bed for sleeping. Finally, try to add a walk to your morning routine.

Taking care of yourself means doing things that you enjoy. Take the time to learn a new hobby or spend time with your family. Doing so can add joy and meaning to your life and help you feel better despite your fears of returning to the workplace.

  1. Talk To Your Boss

Many of the concerns that people have about returning to work are related to change and going back to the unknown of what work at the office will be like. Not knowing about different changes or if the office keeps you safe from contracting the coronavirus can be scary, but you can always talk to your employer.

Let your employer or boss know of any concerns that you may have. If you are worried about having different responsibilities that you have had at home, ask them. If you are worried about new guidelines or safety precautions, then let them know.

Having the answers to these questions and knowledge about the return can be valuable information that can help you reduce your fears and worries.

  1. Learn Coping Techniques

Coping and relaxation techniques can be valuable assets to have in your back pocket for the rest of your life. Life’s difficulties will inevitably bring stress into your life, and learning how to manage that stress can be highly beneficial to your well-being.

One simple method utilizes breathing and awareness to reduce racing thoughts and help you relax. Just try breathing in for four seconds, holding that breath for three seconds, and then slowly letting the breath out for six seconds. Do this a few times, and you may find that your body and mind begin to relax.

You can also try positivity exercises. You can tell yourself that you will get through the difficulties and that it is okay to feel the way you do. You have been there before, and you have always made it through. Some people even benefit from keeping a journal to write down positive aspects of their days or what they are grateful for.

  1. Organize Your Life

Studies show that organizing your workplace can help limit stress, and if you have been working from home for an entire year, there is a good chance that your work area needs to be cleaned up. You can even use cleaning products to help prevent the virus from infecting the space.

You may also want to add pictures that bring you joy, like those of your children or your spouse. A plant on your desk can also help reduce your stress and anxiety. But this type of organization is not the only type you can try.

Organizing your mentality can also help you with your anxieties about returning to work. Sometimes, when people suffer from anxiety, they have multiple trains of thought crashing into each other within their minds. Try to get those thoughts organized, even if it takes time. You may even have to write thoughts down.

Then, you can gain perspective and see if any thoughts are out of your control or not worthy of substantial worry because they cannot impact your life.

Finally, try not to take on too much work, especially when you first return to the workplace. Taking on more than you can handle can increase anxiety and stress and lead to burnout.

Doing Our Part

With the pandemic came lockdowns and social distancing. In addition, it had a tremendous impact on our collective mental health. BetterHelp has been working to ensure that more people could get the help they need while feeling safe in the comfort of their homes.

Anxiety About Returning To Work ls Stressful, But You Are Not Alone

While many people wanted to speak with a mental health professional, they may not have wanted to go to an office because there are concerns about the virus, even with masks and socially distanced public areas. Our duty was to provide people with the help they needed. Our responsibility was to allow people to a qualified therapist without sacrificing their sense of health and safety.

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