As we continue to progress through the pandemic, and California prepares to reopen June 15, many employees will be returning to the office in the summer or fall. While these are positive changes as we work toward finding our new normal, for many, they are prompting stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty.
To deal with the challenges, below are four wellness tips for reducing return-to-work anxiety.
Communicate with co-workers
If you have fears of returning to the office due to lingering risks of COVID-19, child care concerns or preferring to work remotely or in a hybrid model, tell your manager, team and/or business partners what’s on your mind. Clearing the air and sharing what you need and want for your future working arrangement is an important factor in your ability to continue to be successful on the job.
Ask questions, and get further clarification if needed, about continued vaccinations, COVID testing, safety protocols and requirements, office layout and distancing of desks, work-from-home policies, travel policies, and more. And then don’t be afraid to negotiate so that you can feel most comfortable going forward.
Communicate with family
As work and school schedules between you and your family continue to evolve and change, keep the lines of communication open at home as well. After spending over a year together under one roof while working or attending school virtually, returning to the office or campus and/or traveling will be a huge adjustment for everyone. Share how you’re feeling about it, and encourage others in the family to do the same so that everyone can support one another and be on the same page about what each person needs during the transition period.
Some may be struggling more than others, or each person’s struggles could happen at different times – that’s OK and to be expected. The important thing is to provide empathy, support, safety and love for one another.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Burn off stress through exercise, healthy eating, sleep and mindfulness practices. Now is an especially important time to leverage your wellness toolkit to deal with what lies ahead. Make sure to move your body and burn off stress through getting at least 30 minutes or more of exercise each day. Eat plant-based foods that will fuel and nourish you and continue to protect your immune system as you venture back out in the world. Prioritize your sleep so that you can feel rested and have more energy. And indulge in mindfulness practices such as yoga, meditation, hiking in nature or listening to calming music to combat feelings of anxiety.
Be flexible and prepared for more changes ahead. If there’s anything this past year has taught us, it’s that change is inevitable. So, the more you can be flexible and prepared for any changes ahead, the more you’ll be mentally and physically ready to deal with it. You’ll also learn to be resilient and will help model for your family and those around you at work and in your community to do the same.
This is my final Your Health column article for the Town Crier, as my family and I are moving to San Diego in June. It’s been such a pleasure writing for the Town Crier over these past four years. Wishing everyone a Happy Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, and best of luck returning to work and staying healthy in these changing times.
Reena Vokoun is founder and CEO of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit, a health, wellness and fitness lifestyle company. Passion Fit livestreams fitness and dance classes via Zoom 9:15-10 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information, visit passionfit.com.