As the world tries to adapt to the 'new normal' after the coronavirus lockdown, you might be heading back to the office in the coming weeks and feel anxious about the idea of being amongst co-workers and commuting to the office.
Cultivate the courage to change what is driving the anxiety
If you are coming up against real hurdles with your anxiety, use this transition time as your opportunity to verbalise it. In fact, companies are actively welcoming feedback, so be confident about making clear what your needs are at work, how change can be beneficial to the company, and put boundaries in place where you need to. This can help to build your confidence and give you back a sense of control when everything else may be chaotic. This is a healthy approach to managing the anxiety - nobody should be going back onto auto-pilot to exactly what they were doing before.
Try not to let your mind run away with thoughts
One of the best techniques you can implement to keep this anxiety at bay is to make the effort to stay in the present moment. Once the mind latches onto these fears, thoughts can escalate very quickly and you could end up catastrophising about something that hasn’t even happened, causing a lot of unnecessary stress. Nobody knows how this will unfold, but we also never know this in everyday life anyway - pandemic or not. Therefore, the perception that something could go terribly wrong tomorrow is something to watch and be careful of.
Have an anchor or a ‘constant’ at home or work that you reminds you of routine
As creatures of habit, we crave consistency and routine, so returning to an environment where norms no longer apply, working practices have changed, not all work colleagues are present, communication and interaction are at a distance or digitised, can throw us off our sense of ‘belonging’, we might even start to question our ability to perform at work. So having an anchor that we can return to – making a cup of tea around the same time, going for a short walk during the day, finding 10 minutes for yourself in a meeting room to practice some calming breathing - will help you create a sense of routine and make you feel more in control during a time of change.
Keep a gratitude journal
Getting into the habit of being grateful for all the wonderful things you have around you is a brilliant way of counteracting the anxiety. Each morning, by simply writing down at least one thing (or three things or more ideally!) that you are grateful for that day is going to remind you of the best things in life even when the anxiety may be making you feel like your worst. And when you feel like you might be dwelling on the anxiety, consciously try to flip that thought so instead, you can dwell on the things you are grateful for instead.
Don’t rush it!
Going back to work doesn’t mean you now need to play catch-up! The fear of not being able to keep up may be a factor behind your anxiety, but this reframe this as a time for questioning and learning, taking the time to do things well and efficiently instead of quickly. Doing this allows you to take pride in your work, and if you care about what you are doing, you can become less fearful of it! Trust that there will be a certain level of perspective that we all need to gain from this, and that perspective will only come with time – so there’s no need to rush. Look after yourself and look after lifestyle, so you can be in the spirit of change in the most positive way instead of feeling like you’re just reacting to it at every opportunity.