How to cope with workplace anxiety
As society learns how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic long term and adapt accordingly, many companies have already resumed, or plan on resuming, in-person office work. As a result, if you've been mainly working remotely since the pandemic started two years ago, you may be experiencing workplace anxiety. For instance, you might be concerned about losing the flexibility and freedom you’ve enjoyed working from home. The good news is that you’re not alone, and there are ways to help with this transition back to the office:
1. Share your concerns
Are there aspects of your company’s return to the office plan that seem confusing, vague, or impractical? Chances are, other staff also share the same concerns. Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your supervisor and seek clarification.
2. Practice old routines before returning
After working from home for so long, it can be tough to get back into old daily habits. But, feeling organized and prepared can help alleviate some of the stress associated with change. It can be helpful to practice some of your old pre-pandemic routines before returning to the office, such as setting the alarm and meal prepping.
3. Incorporate aspects of work from home life
Think about the elements of working from home that you’ve enjoyed and those that have been less beneficial. Find ways to incorporate the positives of your home life as you return to the office. For example, you may have enjoyed the flexibility of structuring your day to do chores, exercise, have a sit-down lunch, and listen to podcasts. Determine how you can build some of this into your workplace. Maybe you can schedule an afternoon walk or listen to podcasts on your daily commute.
4. Establish and maintain boundaries
While working from home, it may have been easier to establish and maintain boundaries around Covid-19. However, you might have worries that being around coworkers may increase your risk of contracting the virus. It’s crucial to adopt behaviors that make you feel safe, which requires establishing and maintaining boundaries and being assertive with others if they violate those boundaries.
5. Manage your energy levels
Commuting to work and interacting with coworkers in-person can both be really tiring. Keep your physical energy reserves high by staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating well. You can maintain your emotional energy by booking time out to be by yourself and not filling your day with endless meetings.
6. Set workplace goals
Setting new goals, especially around work, can help instill a sense of freshness. You can set goals around how you’ll spend your commute time, new relationships you’d like to initiate, new skills you’d like to develop, and new experiences you’d like to have. Write down these goals and a few ideas on how you can achieve them.
7. Reach out to coworkers
Our relationships with others are what keep us going. Having a solid support system at work can help with transitioning back to office life. Reflect on which coworkers you’d like to get to know better and invite them to have coffee or lunch.
1. “Feeling Anxious About Heading Back to the Office? 6 Experts on Dealing with Workplace Stress as Restrictions Ease,” Marie Claire, January 26, 2022.
2. “Workplace Anxiety: How to Cope with Returning to the Office (Again),” Vogue, January 29, 2022.