Reducing Return to Work Anxiety: Let’s Climb This Mountain Together

By |Published On: May 11th, 2022|

Guest blog by Erica Piancone

After two years of navigating through a pandemic, its variants and its ever-changing restrictions, many companies have decided that it’s time to have their staff return to the office as cases decrease and life starts to return to its previous state.

For many this can be quite scary! It’s one thing to leave your established safe zone to quickly run an errand. Certainly, it’s another to have to abandon the comforts you’ve surrounded yourself with during your workday. As we process and accept a new way of life and settle into a new daily routine, we all – employees and employers – must find a way to adequately introduce ourselves to the “new normal.”

Feeling trepidation about returning to the office is more common than you may think. This type of anxiety is known as “reentry anxiety,” and there are two forms of it. According to psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, the first form of anxiety concerns safety, especially the fear of unknowingly contracting COVID-19. The second type of anxiety regards social interactions – let’s face it, the screens in front of us have substituted actual human contact and it can be difficult to remember how to interact with other people.

The pandemic amplified pre-existing mental health conditions, while driving up worker stress and burnout. This combination of circumstances is a recipe for disaster for an employee already fraught with worry.

How can we streamline this process to help everyone adjust? GoMo Health has assembled some tips, meant as a quick reference guide, for those moments where setting foot in the office just feels insurmountable.

Get Reacquainted

Stop by your office and conduct a quick survey of your desk and any other areas you might frequent. Tidy up your space and add some decor – a framed photo of your loved ones and pets can be an instant mood-boost. Adding a plant can also positively affect your mental health. Dr. Albers adds, “Research indicates that plants help reduce stress levels at the office and increase productivity by 15%.”

A little green goes a long way!

Dress the Part & Catch Some Z’s

A proper work wardrobe can inform your entire day. After two years of rotating through your favorite sweatpants, putting on a work outfit might seem a bit strange, but it can boost your confidence while adding an air of professionalism. Remain unconvinced? Try it – we swear it works!

One of the benefits of working from home that many quickly discovered is the ability to sleep in until rightbefore you’re set to begin your day. Since snoozing in your office isn’t an option, ensure you get yourself on a consistent and reliable sleep schedule – seven to nine hours of sleep per night should leave you feeling well-rested.

Mask Up & Stay Safe

Review your employer’s COVID-19 safety policy and make sure they are following current safety guidelines. If you feel most comfortable wearing a mask, continue to do so and know it’s completely acceptable to express the need for personal space when your coworkers are around you.

Ask For Help

Employers should look to provide ongoing mental health support for their employees. Returning to work may trigger a specific type of PTSD, known as COVID PTSD. Regardless of occupation, the ever-present exposure to death and trauma, combined with the lack of our fundamental need for security, have all contributed to this disorder.

By recognizing and providing psychological safety alongside physical safety, employers can help foster happier, healthier and more productive employees, while boosting their own efforts in cultivating inclusive workplaces.

At GoMo Health, we offer personalized employee engagement solutions with a focus on both physical and emotional health that enable better self-management, healthier decision making and improved outcomes. If you’re an employee, talk to your employer to see if they can provide you with support through one of our programs. If you are an employer, fill out the form below for more information on our award-winning solutions. We are here to ensure your health, safety and comfort as you navigate through this transformed terrain.

Schedule a demo today!

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