Our lives are opening up again, the streets are starting to bustle and many businesses have welcomed the news that remote workforces can soon 'return'. Addressing the final stage of the Government’s roadmap, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed this week that the work from home order will be lifted and people will return to offices and indoor workspaces as of July 19 and while many are eager to get back into collaborative environments, change often comes with mixed emotions.
Steve Rose, founder of The WellMind Coach, explores why we feel anxiety and most importantly how you can find coping strategies to aid you adapting to this next period of change.
"The Pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways, from the initial excitement many felt from being furloughed (who had even heard of that word before 2020!) to the fear of rejection and a loss of purpose as it continued. We also learnt to juggle personal life and work commitments, coping to use new tools and adopting ways of working, and, after time, learning to exist in this new world.
At the start we were told to stay home and protect the NHS, we were fearful of others and we began to change our behaviours. I was finding even seeing people on films or TV from last year where people were in close proximity with others, without masks was causing me to feel uncomfortable.
This is the result of an engineered way to alter our social behaviour to protect us and the world we live on.
Now as restrictions are easing this bubble we have learned to accept is beginning to be lessened, our barriers are dropping and there is a momentum to move back towards working in a shared space again, maybe not the same as before but a move towards some resemblance of normality.
It is logical though that this easing can produce strong, valid and genuine feelings of anxiety.
Anxiety is a natural response to a threat and as we have spent the last 12 months listening to daily news telling us of this danger, this silent killer our bodies are doing what is natural, they are protecting us from danger.
But as the real danger decreases our brains take longer to stop telling our bodies we are threatened. So when going back to work follow these simple tips to ease the return the norm (whatever the new norm is!)
- Listen to your body, anxiety comes from the fight and flight response to perceived threat so being aware that your body is treating and reacting normally can ease anxiety.
- Talk to your manager and discuss any concerns you may have about workplace safety.
- Be aware that the world is safe and you are not at threat from being eaten alive by a tiger. You are in control and if you are uncomfortable with the environment you have choices.
- Know your challenges and gently test them. For instance if going to the company eating area is causing you concerns then create a plan that will test this over a week, and move a step closer to your goal each day eg;
- Day 1 imagine going to the eating area
- Day 2 walk to the place outside a busy time and leave
- Day 3 Go with a friend on a busy time and grab some food to have at your desk
- Day 4 Go on you your own and repeat the above
- Day 5 go and eat at your destination
Be aware that part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise and good nutrition so go for quick walks outside, eat well and drink lots of water.
Finally remember how resourceful and adaptable you are, you did this when the world changed over a year ago."
You’ve got this."
Whatever the 'new normal' may look like for you, remember we are all in this together and we hope the advice shared serves to remind you that you can handle what's to come.