In recent months, a few organizations conducted surveys to assess whether employees are ready to return to the office and what that return will look like. Most of the respondents say they would like to return to the office two or three days per week…at some point. Many people are hesitant to return to office because they are anxious. Although many employers are now mandating vaccinations, some employees worry about coworkers not being vaccinated. Close to 65% of respondents said they would only return if all coworkers are vaccinated. Others worry about their commute to the office and whether public transit schedules will change to pre-pandemic frequency. In one article, a respondent with disabilities indicated her life quality improved significantly while working from home and not having to commute 5 days per week. Others indicated being an introvert and dreading the small talk when returning to the office. Having some level of anxiety when planning for the return to the office isn’t unusual. Whatever your anxiety is related to, we hope you can find one of these tips useful:
- Start talking to your colleagues about what you are looking forward to, remember pleasant activities you can look forward to at the office
- If you have been walking to take a Zoom break, continue doing that while in the office, being outside helps you get some fresh air and clear your head. While you are out you can try a walking mindfulness exercise. You can find more info here.
- Pay attention to how you feel in the first few days. If you sense you are getting anxious and tense, try a deep breathing technique or a progressive muscle relaxation technique. You can find some guided meditations here and here. More info about progressive muscle relaxation exercises available here.
- If you are anxious about your public transit commute, try distracting yourself with a good book, a podcast, or music. You can find a good list of podcasts here.
- Take small steps, practice exposure, take a short train, go out for lunch with a friend, or plan a day when you can be in the office for half a day.
- Get all the information you can on what safety measures will be implemented in your office and public transit. Here you can find info on what measures NJ Transit has implemented.
Whatever you choose to do and when your return to the office is scheduled, remember to be patient and kind to yourself. It has been one and a half years since we all had to completely change how we worked, shopped, exercised, and socialized. It is normal to have some anxiety related to going back to doing any of these activities. And remember if you feel overwhelmed and can’t manage your anxiety, talk to someone, ask for help.
Deep Breathing & Guided Relaxation | Student Wellness Center (dartmouth.edu)
How to do Progressive Muscle Relaxation