Back To The Rat Race?
It’s been a long year and a half since the pandemic hit our shores. There has been a lot of hand sanitizer under the bridge, making the time seem both elongated and truncated. Working from home turned into the new norm. Except, of course, for our front-line workers.
Slowly, the rest of the workforce has been returning to their brick-and-mortar workplaces resulting unexpected mental turmoil. Perhaps you have recently been called back into a building for work and are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Here are some tips for surviving reentry into your on-site job.
1. Recognize the Core Issues
A year and a half ago, life changed. We had to make some major adjustments in our work locations, which impacted every other area of life. Over time, we adapted and settled into the “new” normal. Now, you are being asked to do that again. Yet another major change in a relatively short time. It is reasonable and expected that you feel anxious.
2. Realize the Change
Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, life was a sprint. Run to work, run to the store, run the kids to basketball, run to do errands. Endless hurrying and scurrying filled our days. We complained a little about being “so busy.” Then everything changed. In March 2020, life’s speed went from 110 MPH to 50 MPH. We stayed home, spent time with family, and ate a lot of snacks. Now, many are getting back into the 110 MPH lifestyle. Understandably, there are feelings of frustration and being overwhelmed.
Also, many workers who are returning to their workplace are faced with getting reacquainted with commuting. Some people have to drive an hour or more one way to their job. Before the pandemic, it was viewed as just another day. Now, a two-hour commute seems excessive.
The stress and anxiety are real. Not only has COVID not gone away, but it has brought uninvited friends. School systems are understaffed and overrun with government mandates that are vague and contradictory. Instead of focusing on academics, many schools are wrangling with politics in order to keep the doors open. Mask or no mask? Mandatory vaccinations or not? Virtual option or complete on-campus required attendance?
Amid the uncertainty and tension, it is important to have a functioning coping mechanism. Talk to someone you trust about your concerns. Some other strategies are exercise, getting enough sleep, talking to your cat, praying, or eating copious amounts of chocolate.
4. Readjust Your Priorities
Now that life is ramping up again, albeit with “new norms” in effect, it’s time to ease some back-to-work anxiety. One of the best strategies is to list the mandatory activities such as school, work, and family time. Once that list is complete, start adding in the extras. You may need to eliminate some. Others you may be able to simply moderate. For example, reading a book a day could be modified to a book a week.
5. Remember a Mantra
“This too shall pass.”
True, the pandemic seems to be taking its own precious time passing, but nothing on Earth is forever. Change is part of life and it must be faced honestly, rationally, and constructively. Reentering in-person work requires a reasonable plan for stress management and the new lifestyle.
No matter what coping strategies you use, remember to utilize your resources. Discuss what priorities need adjusting or eliminating with your family. Lean on your friends for emotional support. Talk to a therapist if you need to. And of course, don’t forget the chocolate.
Photo courtesy of Andeolu Eletu on Unsplash