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Managing the post-lockdown return to work

Managing the post-lockdown return to work

We have now been given a roadmap towards normality with a staged approach to the lifting of the lockdown. Most of us have been advised to work from home if possible and we have done exactly that. We have created mini work-spaces within the comfort of our own homes but as the lockdown starts to ease we may be asked to return to our office or place of work.

For some, this may feel like a welcome change. But for others, this may bring up feelings of uncertainty, worry and dread.

If you are struggling with the idea of returning to the office then here are a few tips to help you manage:

1. Ease yourself back to your “normal“

It’s likely that you haven’t been able to do lots of things that you used to do and your routine has completely shifted from how it was pre-Covid. It may feel daunting to consider going back to those things or they may not seem important or necessary to you anymore. Consider which things you do want to see back in your life, be it your hobbies, your social life, your work or self-care routine and practise doing small tasks related to them each day. For example, if like me, you are guilty of starting the day at the laptop in your pyjamas, then it may be helpful to slowly start practising the typical morning routine of getting dressed and having breakfast for the day before settling down at the desk to prepare you for going back into the office.

2. Open up

Never underestimate the power of sharing your concerns with somebody. It may be helpful to open up to a family member or friend. You may find that they share similar concerns to you and you can work through your concerns together.

Speak to your employer about your concerns if you feel able to. This is a very tricky time for a lot of people and your employer may be able to address any concerns you may have or listen to any particular requests you may have.

3. Find out about your safety at work

After a year of being told that we are at risk if we venture outside of our home and come into contact with others, you may be feeling concerned for your safety when you venture back to the workplace post lockdown. Your workplace will likely have completed a Covid risk assessment and put safety measures in place. This may include the regular use of handwashing and sanitizers, regular cleaning and maintaining a safe distance from others and adapting these as the situation continues to change. It can be helpful to schedule a meeting with your manager to find out more information regarding this or search your intranet for the latest Covid risk policy.

4. Consider your commute to work

You may feel concerned about your commute for a multitude of reasons, particularly if you are using public transport. Consider what will make you feel most comfortable when you return to work. It may be that you prefer to take a longer walk rather than catch the bus, you may wish to ask for an earlier or later start time so to avoid the rush hour or car share with a person you trust. There are measures that you can continue to use to keep safe such as masks, hand sanitizers and regular handwashing.

5. Managing worries about weight gain

You may have been out of the office for a year and have put on a few pounds or more. Lockdown weight is something that has been on many people’s minds and concerns can arise as to what others may think of us if they notice our lockdown weight gain or even if our clothes will still fit. A sedentary lifestyle, snacking out of boredom and lack of motivation may have made it difficult to maintain a healthy weight in these testing times and you are not alone with this! It may be helpful to start considering ways to get more movement into your day again and opting for healthy, nutritious foods for your physical and mental health. Challenge yourself to increase your movement every day, even starting with short walks and gradually build to increase your activity levels. Consider removing the temptation of sugary and fatty snacks and replacing with fresh fruit and healthier alternatives.

If you find that you are having uncontrollable worry, losing sleep or any other distressing symptoms then it may be helpful to enlist the help of a qualified professional such as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. CBT can help you to understand your thoughts and behaviours and how these link to the way that you feel and guide you through techniques to help you feel back in control and build your confidence in managing this ever-changing situation.

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