Returning to the office & work anxiety

Back April 13th, 2022

Although the world is definitely a different place now to how it was before COVID-19 and we are starting to see some return to previous ways of life, it is however completely understandable for many people to still feel uneasy about things being “back-to-normal”.

Major events are returning, concerts are happening again, people are socialising and there are less masks being worn but more than anything a lot of people are returning to the office.

However, if you’ve been working from home, maybe you adapted well to it and now the idea of going back into the office seems a bit overwhelming. There are numerous factors that can contribute to this; the commute, the inflexible hours, being surrounded by colleagues and generally being out of the comfortable space of home. There is also still a concern about catching/spreading the virus.

 

Self-care.

If you feel well in yourself, you feel stronger and more resilient to changes. Start off with the basics. Take some time to check in with yourself, assess how you are feeling with no self-judgement and accept what those feelings are. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it’s true… it’s ok not to be ok.

Ensure you are eating well; there is evidence to support the fact that gut microbes have a major impact on our brain and our behaviour, especially in stress related disorders such as anxiety. Have a read of our Nutrition and Anxiety booklet for more information on this here: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/products/anxiety-condition/anxiety/nutrition-and-anxiety-a-self-help-guide/

Regular exercise can be hugely effective in managing anxiety. This can feel like a challenge but it’s a great way to relieve stress even if it’s just a quick walk around the block to get some fresh air. Take a look at our video on the practical ways of dealing with anxiety here: https://youtu.be/ttHu_N-zAnQ.

 

Build yourself up to it.

If returning to the office is feeling too overwhelming for you, then just try small steps. Let you manager know how you feel – if they don’t know how can they help support you? You could ask work about a gradual return. You could also start to make the journey on weekends to get yourself used to the commute. See about meeting up with your colleagues for a coffee to reconnect in a casual environment. Below are some phrases to start this conversation:

“This has been quite a difficult time and I am nervous about coming back to the office. Is there some flexibility in me being able to work from home?”

“I feel ready to come back to work but a bit apprehensive so could we try a gradual return?”

“As we are all going back into the office next week do you fancy meeting for a coffee and a catch up?”

 

Extra support.

If this all still feels a bit too much you may want a bit of extra support. Talking therapies are some of the most effective tools for treating anxiety, they can help you to learn how to manage and overcome your anxiety. To find out more about therapy services click here: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/access-therapy/.

We also have an Anxiety management course you could join, here you can share your struggles with others and develop methods to help manage anxiety. Anxiety UK’s online, therapist-led anxiety management courses run for 1 hour a week. Courses are facilitated by an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist who leads the group sessions which are designed to help support people and provide tools, tips and techniques to help manage their anxiety. Find more information including the booking process and prices here: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-uk-courses-and-groups/.