Monday, June 22, 2020
How to Handle Going Back to Work After COVID-19
If you're still working from home, you need to start preparing to return to your workplace.
The thought may fill you with dread. Maybe you love working from home. Maybe you're scared of catching COVID-19 when you return to work. Maybe you're just getting used to your new routine and the thought of commuting and going back to your co-workers fills you with anxiety.
Just remember that you're not alone. We've all been experiencing a lot of stress, depression and anxiety since the world was turned upside down and we were required to quarantine at home.
"Uncertainty and unpredictability can really create an unhealthy amount of fear and stress, especially when it's sustained over such a long period of time," says Dr. K. Luan Phan, head of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
Still, when the boss says it's time to return to work, you know that you will probably return to work. So, how do you do it and still feel safe? How do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to, once again, confront change?
Here's some things to think about:
1. Take your own precautions. Just because your boss says there will be hand sanitizer and social distancing doesn't mean you shouldn't take your own steps to feel safe. So, bring your own sanitizer. Wear a mask even if no one else does. Don't use the communal coffee pot, water fountain, beer keg, etc. Take the stairs instead of the elevator full of people. Some people are much more lax about social distancing and wearing a mask, but you don't have to be. Do what makes you feel safe.
2. Start the transition. So you've been wearing sweatpants and college sweatshirts since you started working at home. But now it's time to get out your adult clothes and figure out if they still fit. (No judgments!) Try on several outfits and think about how you feel in them -- if nothing works it's time to try a little online shopping to get yourself ready.
3. Get organized. It may have taken you a while to set up your home working space, but it's time to start thinking about what you need to go back to work. Start organizing the files, computer cables, workbooks, etc. that you're going to need to take back to the job.
4. Prepare your household. Whether it's kids or pets or partners, consider what will also make the transition easier on them. Do you need to set up a schedule that will mimic the one that you'll have once you're working away from home? Do you need to find new treats or toys for your pets to keep them occupied when you're not taking them for five walks a day? Do you need to prepare more freezer meals for when you're not home to cook when you want?
5. Remember to breathe. When we all first went into lockdown, we had to learn to cope with the scariness of it all, the weirdness of our lives and the uncertainty of what was going to happen. Think about what calmed you then. Was it listening to music? Talking to family more? Doing yoga? You may need to rely on those things again as you transition to working away from home. Rely on what works for you and call on it in the coming weeks as you begin this new change.