If you’re one of the many being asked to return to work by your employer in the coming weeks, and feeling anxious at the thought of stepping back into work then this post is for you.

Take a nice deep breath and remember that this is a completely normal and healthy way to feel.

Life has changed.

Returning to work can spark fears, apprehension and anxiety; the world has gone through a trauma and stepping back into the old way of life will stir these emotions.

These last two months have created a new normal for you; be it working from home or on furlough, you will have adapted to this way of living and it may have got you thinking and re-evaluating where you are at work.

Acknowledge what’s going on for you.

Determine why you’re feeling this way; and look at what’s best for you to move forward.

Let’s look at some examples:

Worries for your health as you step back into the work environment – companies are required to complete a risk assessment on employees returning to work, to ensure they maintain safe working measures for them and colleagues.  If you’re worried about what this might look like, speak to your line manager.  You can also do your own risk assessment and look at ways to ease your worries with your own personal protection equipment (face masks, sanitiser etc.)

Concerns about workloads and work lifestyles – if you had been working in a fast-paced environment before all this started, you may have enjoyed a slower pace working from home or being off from work and the thought of stepping back into what it was before is causing your anxiety.  If this is the case, get clear on what your work-life balance needs to look like.  Talk through solutions with your line manager or colleagues on how you can maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Fearful of going back into a job you hate – there’s nothing worse than having to go back into a job you really don’t want to be in.  If this is your worry, then it’s time to make a change my friend.  Use this opportunity to get clear on what you want your work to be about.  Create a plan that will motivate you to make that change.  It’s in these times that we reflect on what isn’t right for us, but making that change can often feel overwhelming, resulting in putting it off and continuing to feel trapped and unhappy. Don’t let this fester for you.

Once you know what is driving your anxiety and fear you can then handle it.  You get to choose how you respond and how you review the best way forward.

Recognise the thoughts that are coming to the front of your mind, pause on those that aren’t serving you and rewire those negative thoughts with a solution.

Bring yourself back into the present moment; the here and now.

Create an anchor to help you, this is great when you’re stepping back into the work environment too.  Try practicing gratitude or repeat a positive affirmation personal to you, hold a keepsake that helps you to be in the moment and feel safe, practice breathing exercises to ease overwhelm.  Find what works for you.

So, let’s put this into action for you.

If you’re feeling apprehensive and anxious about heading back to work, here are 3 questions to ask yourself:-

  1. What am I feeling anxious about?
  2. What can I do to ease this feeling and give me some reassurance?
  3. How can I be kind to myself?

Be patient with yourself, returning to work after a pandemic is an adjustment; this is going to take time.

Take things slow, keep communicating with your employers and your loved ones on how you’re feeling and be gentle with yourself.