Deal With Anxiety When Returning to work

How Do I Deal With Anxiety When Returning To Work?

Undoubtedly, familiar situations feel safer for everyone since they are more predictable. That’s why transitions are not the easiest. Therefore, situations like going back to work after a long break can increase our anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean that you have poor coping skills. Keep reading to learn a few tips on how you can deal with anxiety when returning to work. But before that, let’s explore some common anxieties about returning to work. You might struggle with thoughts like:

  • Can I still do the job?
  • Will I find a work-life balance?
  • Are things still the same? Did my colleagues leave or get promoted?
  • What if I don’t love my job anymore?

These are normal thoughts. Now let’s see some of the things that might help.

1. Acknowledge the Feelings of Anxiety

Anxiety is one of those human emotions that everyone experiences. It is your body’s way of telling you that you are stressed. But while anxiety is normal, it can also sabotage your work since you might struggle with focusing on tasks ahead of you.

It can also make you irritable and rather impatient, which might be a hurdle at your place of work. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge the anxiety so that from there, you can manage it. One of the simplest ways of accepting anxiety is journaling. Doing so allows you to analyze your feelings and see what role anxiety plays in your life.

Mindfulness also helps with accepting anxiety and developing stress resilience. Check out this article to learn more about stress resilience. Mindfulness also makes it easier for you to identify triggers and deal with them.

Keep in mind that avoiding your work responsibilities will only heighten the anxiety. So, while looking for distractions, like watching television, might sound like a good idea, it is not a long-term fix.

2. Focus on the Positive

Experts say that human beings naturally have a negativity bias. We tend to focus on the negative even when the negative experiences are inconsequential. Yet, the more you focus on the negative, your anxiety increases.

But the mind is such a powerful and flexible tool. While the negative bias exists, you have the power to intentionally focus on the positive side of going back to work. Think of the intellectual challenge that your job will give you.

Or the intellectual challenge that’s ahead of you. Don’t you love the constant stimulation of your mind? Returning to work is also a chance to learn new skills, which will help you climb the career ladder. Not to mention the work community you will get a chance to interact with. So, going back to work is scary, but there is so much in it for you.

3. Plan Ahead

Returning to work can be overwhelming, especially on the first few days. That’s why you need a plan, which depends on your unique circumstances. It gives you a sense of control. You might need to involve your manager if you have any concerns.

Say, for example, you return to work after having a baby. You can ask if the office has a functioning creche facility. You can talk to your team to work from the office on certain days and work from home on others. If you live with your partner or family, you also need to include them in your plan for a seamless transition.

For instance, your partner can also talk to their manager to work from home on days you work from the office. If you are going back to work following a health condition, you can talk to the management if there are tasks you can no longer do. That could even mean taking up a different role at the same company.

It also helps to plan other aspects of your days at the office, such as meals. Will you be eating out or bringing food from home? All that keeps your mind at ease so you can focus on the actual work.

4. Consume Information Carefully

It is normal to want to hear about other people’s return to work experiences. You can ask your friends or check what people say on the internet. All that is okay. However, some opinions might not help with your anxiety. So, as you gather as much information as possible, sift through it carefully.

Understand that everyone’s experience is unique — so don’t compare yourself. The most important thing you need to do during this period is extend yourself some grace. If you are so hard on yourself by drawing expectations from other people’s opinions, you might end up feeling even more anxious.

5. Seek Professional Help

While your situation is unique, many anxieties and worries are similar — and a therapist has the expertise to help you. They can help you explore things that trigger your anxiety. For instance, you could be struggling with mom guilt if you have to leave your child in someone else’s care as you return to work.

The therapist can help you see that you are doing the best you can and that leaving your child for work is not a form of neglect. A therapist might also be in the best position to help you build your return-to-work plan. Inarguably, the success of these therapy sessions will depend on your relationship with your therapist. So, you need to find someone you can trust and feel safe around.

6. Set Realistic Expectations

Most people expect to feel good instantly after going back to work. But that doesn’t always happen. It’s important to set realistic goals and keep an open mind.

There is a possibility that some of your colleagues left, and there are new faces in the office. Be compassionate towards them. And most importantly, don’t set a rigid timeline for adjusting. Nobody can predict how long that will take.

Prioritize Yourself

Above everything else, your well-being matters. Don’t let returning to work consume you. Even as you adjust your schedule to the new reality, be sure to leave some time for self-care. Continue doing activities that make you happy, such as working out, meditating, and connecting with your loved ones.