Re-Entry Anxiety – It’s A Real Thing And It’s Okay
New strategies to cope with anxiety about getting back into the world post pandemic!
By Patty Burke, Co-owner, Health & Life Coach
We’re trickling back to the office in a changed world. And as we re-enter, our workspaces feel different, we feel different!
Our stores and offices are re-arranged to accommodate social distancing and hybrid schedules.
There might be confusion about safety protocols.
Some co-workers are vaccinated and some are NOT.. what to do then?
Folks are worried about:
How to stay safe while socializing indoors
How to discuss their comfort level with co-workers
Concerned that their lives might become too busy or frantic again.
This can create a lot of anxiety for many of us. So before I discuss some strategies to help you cope with the work re-entry process, here’s a big clue as to why many are worried:
Our brains do not like change and they do not like uncertainty!
Many neuroscientists agree that when we, as humans go into new territory, like going back to work, or lifting off our mask –> our brain and body responds in a way that protects us. With new situations, we go into high alert.
Our human brains are wired to look for danger whether it was there or not.
We crave to protect ourselves and come up with solutions all the time.. even if there is nothing to solve.
Our nervous system triggers a worry response and anxiety –> And that panic/worry can be very harmful to our health and relationships.
Here are some tips to help curb our anxiety around work re-entry and allow for optimum productivity.
If you are an Employer
Create a plan to empower people for flexibility – a plan that encompasses policy, physical space and technology.
Invest in space and tech to bridge the physical and digital worlds – leaders need to equip their workers with tools they need for optimum productivity.
Combat digital exhaustion from the top – consider how to reduce employee workloads, embrace a balance of collaboration, and create a culture where breaks are respected.
Enhance your level of communication and empathy for employees – let them know you hear and respect their individual concerns and challenges.
If you are an Employee
Ask questions and be in THE KNOW before you roam your community or go back to the office. What are the safety guidelines in place? What is expected of me as a co-worker? Be mindful that it’s important to be respectful and tolerant of one another!
Set boundaries and priorities that work well for YOU and stick to them. You get to decide what makes sense for you, your family, and your own health.
Calm your Brain. Breathe! And be present and aware of what you are consuming through your FIVE senses. Remind yourself: if you are worried or panic you can borrow my mantra…”Hello brain, oh it’s just you”.
Look on the bright side – get curious and practice gratitude!
Curiosity feels better than anxiety.
It helps us focus on the moment rather than worrying about the future of the What Ifs.
Ask.. is there danger right now. Is this real? If it’s real – then fix the problem. If it is not real, then use mantra: “oh this is just my brain”.
Practice gratitude/kindness – toward yourself and others.
Acts of generosity can help us step out of constantly worrying.
Try to curb self-judgement or negative self-talk.
Simple acts of kindness: could be putting your hand on your heart, or genuinely wish yourself WELL. Don’t let life get too hectic again. Set boundaries, limits, and priorities in accordance with what is important to you and fits your lifestyle.
You get to decide what works for YOU and what doesn’t work for you. The power of choice is huge.. in both our mental and physical health.
Biggest piece of advice that I give my clients to help them achieve long-term healthy habits is to build self-awareness and become fully present.
Be aware of what is working for you and what is not working for you and don’t be afraid to live your true authentic life.
Learn to trust your own intuition. You are the best judge and jury for what is good for your own body and for your lifestyle. Sometimes we get sucked into believing everyone else’s opinions. We have to remember that we are all unique with our own biology, backgrounds and life circumstances.
It’s NOT a one size fits all when it comes to our health.
1. Dr Judson Brewer, MD, Author: Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your mind.
2. Microsoft WorkLab, Ben Wiseman, The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work-Are We Ready?