Returning to Work after Lockdown
We’ve gone through huge transitions as a society in the last few months. With most offices closed, employees were tasked with setting up desks at home, often times juggling busy workloads with parenting demands. Now, as lockdown measures start to ease, some workplaces are beginning to reopen. And though many people will look forward to getting back into a familiar routine, there'll no doubt be challenges along the way. It’s natural to feel anxiety around returning to a world post-Covid; here’s how Professional Trainer Sheila O’Malley suggests you set yourself up for success.
Cultivate Healthy Rituals
For many of us, we’ve adjusted to a new, albeit hectic routine. Now, we’re challenged to change again, in lots of cases returning to workplaces that may not feel familiar anymore. To help with this transition, Sheila suggests establishing a set of ‘healthy rituals’. First up, prepare your body for the working week by ensuring you get enough sleep. “It’s so important for emotional regulation”, says Sheila. “As you head back to work, I recommend going to bed an hour earlier, and replacing the laptop with a book.” With enough sleep, we’re calmer, which will help us reintegrate with our colleagues (who might also be nervous about returning to the office).
As some of us revert to a busy 9-5 work model, we may find ourselves with less time for the hobbies and habits we picked up during lockdown. However, Sheila stresses the importance of maintaining those interactions with friends and family. “We have a need for connectiveness with other people. Chatting to them, offloading, getting a new perspective – you come away with a bounce in your step.” During those first few weeks back in the office, be sure to make time for walks in the fresh air with friends and phone calls to family members you mightn’t see regularly.
Dealing with Anxiety
Of course, with a return to work comes worry around practical things, and it’s totally normal to feel apprehensive. If you feel a wave of anxiety coming on, Sheila suggests a simple mindfulness technique. “Anxiety is future-based", she notes. “You’re worrying about something that might happen. The best thing you can do is breathe through it - take your focus out of the anxious ‘fight or flight’, and move your attention to your feet on the ground. Breathe in for a count of three, and out for six. Remember, your ability to manage stressful situations will be so much better if you’re calm and centered.”