Having good mental health at work is really important in normal circumstances. However, thanks to lockdown, being more aware of how you feel mentally and looking after yourself is even more crucial. Many people will be nervous about getting back to the daily grind, especially if they work in close quarters with colleagues or have to get public transport to the workplace. Also, people with pre-existing mental health conditions (like anxiety, social anxiety and OCD) might be even more fearful. It’s important to realise that in four months, things have most definitely changed. We’re getting used to the new norm and now the government is telling us it could be all change again. This constant change makes people feel uneasy and nervous. I know it does for me.
If you are heading back to work, I’ve put together a little list of things that might help to make the transition a bit smoother and less stressful.
Please note, these are just a few things that I will be trying myself in order to get ready for work when I’m called back in.
Keep yourself safe
Carry a face mask, gloves and hand wash in your bag so that you’re prepared for anything and make sure to pay attention to any rules or guidance that have been put in place for your commute to work.
Use your commute for some ‘you’ time
Even though you might be surrounded by people on the tube, train, bus etc, plug into a podcast or mindfulness app and create a sense of calm in your mind.
Ease yourself back in
It’s been awhile since you were in a work environment so take your time and get used to being somewhere other than your front room or homemade office.
Get used to your workspace again
If you haven’t been able to work at a desk for 12 weeks, take time to arrange your desk, give it a clean, grab your favourite mug and catch up with colleagues, at a safe distance.
Take regular breaks
This might be something that you’ve been doing at home so why change your routine? Make sure you take a break to make a cuppa and have a lunch break to get some fresh air.
Don’t be the last to leave
Get into good habits and try to leave the office on time so you can maintain a good work/life balance. Many of us will have perfected the art of this thanks to being at home so keep it going if you can.
Relax when you get home
You’re going to be pretty tired going back to the daily work routine so treat yourself; have a bath, read a book, do some yoga/exercise or anything that makes you take some time for you.
I might be in good company here but I do miss being in the office with my colleagues. Seeing them all on video chat is alright but being in the same room, having a chat and discussing ideas is something I can’t wait to get back to. I’ve found working from home quite tricky, in terms of keeping a routine. Being at home has just made me more tired. I think it’s because I associate home with chilling out!
One thing I have enjoyed is spending more time with my other half and having a pooch in my lap while I work. She has become a regular on the Zoom calls to work and seems to enjoy being centre of attention. As I wrote about in my blog post ‘Learning self care tips from dogs during COVID19‘, Maisey will always sit on my keyboard or stare directly at me when it’s time for walkies or time for me to move out of the chair. I’ve got a terrible habit of not moving from the office chair for hours at a time.
She makes sure my partner and I finish our work around 1pm so that she can go out. I’m not sure what she’ll be like when we both go back to work but I’ll definitely miss my little work buddy. I will be trading her in for actual people so that will be nice!
For anyone heading back, I wish you the best of luck and remember to look after yourselves.
Beth is a mental health blogger over at www.justasquarepeg.com.