As we start to emerge from some of the world’s most stringent lockdown conditions, some of us will be chomping at the bit to get back to everyday social interactions and the buzz of an office, whereas others will find it a daunting prospect, bringing up feelings of being overwhelmed and uncertain.
Many companies are still navigating what the new normal will look like in terms of their business as usual, whether that’s full time in the office, working from home or a hybrid. The below tips aim to help prepare you for a smooth transition back into office life whilst taking care of your own mental health.
- Expect a readjustment phase
Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us are innately creatures of habit. Lockdowns have gone on for long enough for people to become comfortable with and accustomed to their lockdown daily routines. Creating a new daily routine takes effort, as it requires overriding our current habits.
It can be helpful to simply remind yourself that a period of readjustment is normal, given the unusual and stressful situation the world is facing. Keeping this in mind can lead to more realistic expectations for yourself and others who might be struggling, as well as enabling you to show yourself and others greater compassion. Allowing some downtime and leeway for bad days will facilitate a quicker and smoother readjustment.
- Celebrate the opportunity to reconnect and have some fun!
Working from home may have brought unexpected perks of the situation, such as no commuting and therefore additional spare time, but we’ve also lost a lot. This includes things most of us probably took for granted, such as morning coffee runs with a colleague or after work team drinks on a Friday. Even the simple things of just being able to pop over to someone’s desk to ask a quick question or have a chat in the kitchen has been missed. So, enjoy the little things that have been absent, take the time to have that one-on-one conversation with a colleague, visit your regular coffee haunt, just like you used to. These might seem trivial, but these actions can help with establishing some normality back into your routine.
Make an effort to do activities you find enjoyable and/or meaningful — particularly those you haven’t been able to do during lockdown and were looking forward to. Get yourself to the gym at lunchtime, go for a swim, do whatever it is that gives you a sense of normality back.
- Use this time as an opportunity to learn and grow
This has undoubtedly been a time of great challenges. But it may also have been a chance to reassess your priorities and to start living and working in positive new ways. Use any lessons you’ve learned about yourself during lockdown to your advantage and be alert to opportunities – particularly those that will equip you with new experiences and skills. Think about where you want to take your career and upskill in the areas of interest. Set clear goals for the remainder of the year and moving into 2022. This will help focus and can give you a renewed sense of purpose as you head back into the office working environment.
- Be kind to yourself and be present
Although many things about the pandemic have been out of our control, taking concrete steps to decrease your stress level can help you feel better and more in control. Maintaining a positive outlook, setting personal boundaries, and practicing self-care go a long way in helping you feel happy and productive.
One form of self-care is practicing mindfulness. There are various different apps available such as Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace and Simple Habit which have a selection of meditations, music and personalised plans. You could even incorporate it into your commute to set yourself up for the day.
Having a regular exercise routine, a healthy balanced diet, good sleep and hygiene will also do wonders for your mental health.
- Speak to a professional if needed.
For most people, anxiety and stress post-lockdown will be mild and will fade quickly as people settle back into their pre-lockdown routines. However, there are some signs that indicate you may benefit from seeking professional help. These include experiencing distress or anxiety that persists for weeks and is impacting your ability to function well at work or at home.
Others may find they’re still managing to get through their day, but have strong worries about COVID or leaving the house that don’t go away and make it difficult to focus or be present.
While some people may require longer to readjust post-lockdown than others, there’s support available to help people return to their pre-lockdown lives and enjoy the freedoms that go along with it.
At Rowben we offer our staff and contractors free counselling support through our Employee Assistance Program, contact our offices for further information.