Got Back-To-Normality Fear? How To Manage Return-To-Work Anxiety
Quick question: How do you feel about returning to the office? Excited? Nervous? Or a mix of both?
Whichever camp you fall into, we want you to know your feelings are valid and normal (In fact, a recent study found up to 81% of employees are feeling anxious about returning to the office).
Maybe you’ve gotten used to spending the day in your comfies and occasionally working from the couch and are now wondering where you’ll find the energy for the conventional 9-5. Perhaps being around people again gives you the fear and you don’t feel ready for a day full of team meetings and interactions with your boss. Or maybe you simply don’t know what to expect and are worried you won’t be able to cope after a year of working from the comfort of home.
Stress and anxiety, no matter what they are caused by, are rooted in the fear of the unknown and the false belief that you won’t be able to cope with whatever comes your way. But we believe you’re more than equipped to not only survive but thrive as life shifts back into fifth gear.
But just in case you need a little extra convincing we’ve compiled a toolkit, packed with helpful tips and tricks to manage the return to work a little easier. Here’s how…
Put rituals in place
We want you to know something: Good days start and end with rituals. It doesn’t matter if you have a pressing deadline, a scary meeting or an intimidating report to file, when you set (and stick to) daily rituals you set yourself up for success.
So, we suggest that you go ahead and start designing a morning ritual that allows you to feel grounded, motivated and calm and an evening routine that helps you to reflect, relax, and switch off.
To get your day off on the right foot, jot down what you’re grateful for in The Head Plan Gratitude Journal (you can’t feel grateful and anxious at the same time), say some empowering affirmations out loud and clear your mind with a calming meditation.
You might also like to visualise your day going well, get your thoughts and feelings out on paper or click onto The Head Plan App for an instant hit of positivity.
At night, look back and think about all that you achieved that day. It doesn’t matter whether you’d describe your day as good or bad, we’ll bet you did at least one thing you can feel proud of.
Before you go to sleep, you might like to read something inspiring, recap the best moments of your day or set some intentions for tomorrow. The subconscious mind is most easily influenced in the 45 minutes before you fall asleep, so feed it full of good stuff before bed and you’ll wake ready to take on the day.
Can you feel your energy shift from worried and anxious to uplifted and empowered just by doing these simple practices? Of course you can! All you have to do is bring that energy into your next working day.
Schedule plenty of rewards
Rewards are essential for our success. They keep us going when our motivation lags and it incentivise us to reach our goals and boost our performance. Not only that, rewards are scientifically proven to reduce stress, particularly when enjoyed mindfully. When you plan rewards you’re shifting your focus from the things you’re dreading to activities you can look forward to.
Dreading Monday? Plan a lovely lunch with your colleagues so you have something exciting to break up the day. Need a little hand getting over the hump? Plan a mid-week cinema date or perhaps practise some self-care with an evening facial.
Lucky for you, we’ve provided a spot for you to plan a daily productivity reward in The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal.
Get extra organised
Success is in the prep steps so it’s time to get organised and plan, plan, plan.
Got a million and one things on your back-to-the-office to-do list and haven’t a clue where to start? First things first, write every last one of them out on paper and then use the Eisenhower Method to prioritise them. This means, deciding whether they are:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
This handy hack allows you to prioritise your important tasks, ditch the stuff that doesn’t matter, and leave room for anything that needs done ASAP.
Some other nifty tricks? Plan your outfit for work before bedtime (it’ll clear vital headspace for the next day), plan your lunches for the week, and set one goal you want to achieve each day. When you do this, it narrows your focus, meaning you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by your to-do list.
As Dale Carnegie puts it, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing,” so get to it. You’ll function so much better when you know where to put your focus.
Take it slow
If you’re lucky enough to be able to transition back into part-time hours at the office instead of your normal Monday to Friday, do that, or consider making a case for it if you have an understanding boss. If that’s not an option, work plenty of mini-breaks into your working day.
While we’re not suggesting you sneak off to the bathroom every five minutes, we do recommend scheduling a few minutes for yourself every couple of hours to flood your brain with positive thoughts, have a little catch-up with a colleague or sip on a freshly-made cup of herbal tea.
Tackling your day in stages can keep overwhelm at bay. It’s also proven to dramatically cut stress, inspire creative thinking and increase productivity.
Double down on the self-care
Self-care is a multi-faceted thing. It’s not *just* bubble baths and pedicures, it’s figuring out what you really need to nurture your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and committing to it. That might mean grabbing your Nourish meal planner and planning meals that help you to be your most energised and optimistic self or filling up your Daily Drench bottle so you can remain hydrated all day long.
The good news is, there are so many helpful ways to take care of you while dealing with back-to-real-life anxiety. Panic and overwhelming feelings getting the better of you? Opt for daily meditation and breath work. We have a 5 minute 30 day Meditation series live on The Head Plan App that you can have access too at any time or stage of the day.
Nerves and anxiety can leave you feeling out of control but putting good self-care practices in place allows you to take back some of the power. Ask yourself, ‘what do I really need right now?’ and create a plan around your answer that empowers you to feel confident, calm and in control.
You’ve got this…
Remember what we said earlier about how anxiety is rooted in the fear that something bad or unexpected will happen and you won’t know how to cope? Here’s a phrase we’ve borrowed from Susan Jeffers’ best-selling book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: ‘I’ll handle it.’
The next time you find yourself stressing and worrying about what could go wrong, take a deep breath and repeat this phrase. It’s a positive reminder that no matter what goes wrong in your day or week, you’ll be okay and you’ll get through it.
Think of it like this: We’ll bet you’ve not only handled a million and one things that have gone wrong in the past but turned them into major personal highs. You can and will do that again.
Think back over all the times you’ve risen to an unexpected challenge, whether it was acing a last-minute project or leading a presentation. You’ve done it once, and guess what? You can do it again.
You’ve got this. You really do.