If you’re preparing to return to the workplace after lockdown then you may be experiencing mixed feelings about it. Part of you may be excited to be back among colleagues again. Another part of you may be fearful of what it will feel like to be back in the world of ‘new normal’.
Returning to work may be triggering some anxiety symptoms. These can include worrying a lot and ruminating on what might happen, as well as feelings of dread. Part of your anxiety may involve feeling anxious about becoming anxious. You may be about worrying what might happen if you have an anxiety attack in front of people at work and fear finding it impossible to manage your symptoms – which can include shaking and trembling, dizziness, nausea, palpitations, loss of concentration, and a terror that you won’t survive it.
Yet there are some things you can do to help reduce those anxious symptoms should they appear at work.
How to reduce your anxiety at work
Do what you need to do to feel safe
With the Covid-19 pandemic, personal safety is high up on our priority list. Your workplace will have carried out health-and-safety assessments and introduced measures to ensure that all employees are safe (from one-way systems to social distancing, wearing masks, and extra hygiene/opportunities to sanitise). Familiarise yourself with the workplace policies and speak to your manager if you need further reassurance and support.
Prepare for a worst-case scenario
One of the symptoms of anxiety is projecting fear into the future. Your brain catastrophises and turns a tiny issue into a major problem. You create scary worst-case scenarios. An antidote to anxiety is to have a plan for what you would do should any of these scenarios come true. If you become anxious at your desk, for example, what are your options? You could take a brisk walk (socially distanced) around the block, or take a few moments to breathe from your belly button. Some people who experience anxiety carry something with them that can instantly soothe. This may be a handkerchief with a calming scent on it, a picture of a favourite place, or a song they can listen to that calms them down. Do you have something you could bring along for a ‘just in case’ moment?
Rethink how you manage your time
Not having enough time can be a huge trigger for anxiety. Your time management skills may have changed during lockdown without a daily commute, for example. Or you may not quite be as on the ball with meeting deadlines. When you’re back in the workplace you’ll need a new morning routine to get you there on time. Your to-do lists may also need to look sharper. Anxiety can build up around tasks that you dread doing, and can sit menacingly on your to-do list. Don’t let those tasks fester. Don’t allow your feelings about doing those tasks to escalate. Make plans to tackle those awkward or difficult jobs first. You’ll feel a lot less anxious as a result.
Accept that you will have up days and down days
Anxiety can bully you into thinking that your current mood state of mind will last forever. It won’t. This too will pass. Try not to treat yourself unkindly when you’re having a bad day. Just because you’re not coping so well doesn’t make you a bad person. Trust that you have the inner resources to get through this.
If you feel you could benefit from professional support to help you manage your anxiety then do get in touch. We have therapy sessions available seven days a week from our centre in Clapham and Tooting. We are also offering online and phone sessions. Call 020 8673 4545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.