11 Tips to Manage Social Anxiety When Getting Back to the Workplace
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Are you feeling unsure and anxious about life after lockdown? Be assured, you’re not alone in it. As the governments around the world announce the removal of the restrictions imposed during the lockdown, many people are anxious about their ability to readjust themselves back to normality. Though most people are yearning for the time when they would get to live like before, there are outliers, who find comfort in all of this, and now tend to prefer the ‘lockdown life’, terrified about returning to their social lives.
This ‘post-lockdown anxiety’ includes the fear of stepping out of our homes and starting to meet people again. Though the lockdown has worked well to decrease the spread of the virus, it has added to the woes by contributing to increased levels of social anxiety in people, already affected by social media and the continuous COVID-19 coverage.
For anyone worried about resuming their work and adjusting to the life post lockdown, here are some tips that may prove helpful.
#1 Accept the situation
For most of us, this is the first time in our lives where we are facing a situation that is forcing us to cut down on our social lives. Hence, knowing that things will be difficult for each one of us, can make one feel prepared for what is to come. Understanding that it is a tough time for everyone around the world and your colleagues at the workplace are also struggling to find hope in this phase of uncertainty, will go a long way to boost your mental status.
The more you are accepting of the situation, the less anxious you will become, as you resume your work. In such times, it is not possible to stay in our homes, forever. Thus, accepting the current situation and adjusting with the ‘new normal’ is the way forward.
#2 Stay safe: Taking appropriate precautions
Lifting the restrictions under lockdown does not mean that we can go back to our normal lives. We still have to wash hands, wear masks, and maintain social distancing. Similarly, we still have to avoid shaking hands during meetings and hugging each other after closing a deal. Taking these precautions will not only help to alleviate our fears of the virus, but also contribute to ensuring the safety of ourselves and our colleagues at work.
Furthermore, before getting back to your jobs, ensure that your workplace is safe. Maintain a safe distance of at least two-meter from your colleagues. Make sure you keep washing your hands frequently and follow the appropriate health guidelines. Similarly, ensure that you and everyone else working with you wear face masks when they return to work. All these precautions will help you to curb your anxiety about contracting the virus to some extent.
#3 Put down your gadgets: reduce your screen time
The amount of screen time you spend on browsing social media and news sites can lead to increased anxiety levels. Keeping ourselves updated with the latest headlines can indeed help us to become aware of the world where we live. However, we often fail to acknowledge the role that this habit of constantly checking news feeds plays, in increasing our anxiety levels.
#4 Don’t overwhelm yourself
While back to work, allow yourself to take enough time to ease into your job. Take it easy and go light on yourself. Make sure the situation at your workplace is not too tense and that you feel welcome. As you transition back to your job, ensure that you also give yourself enough time for all the things you were doing during the lockdown– trying out new recipes, gardening, or learning your favorite instrument.
#5 Avoid ending up in stressful situations
While traveling to work, make sure you leave early for the office to avoid adding the stress of getting stuck in traffic or running late. If you need to use public transport, follow social distancing, and ensure you have your mask on, to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus. Similarly, try clearing backlogs at work as early as possible, ensure you prepare well for the presentation you have to give to reduce stress and avoid any confrontations with colleagues to maintain a healthy environment for everyone.
#6 Speak up: Let your employer, colleagues know your situation
For ensuring a peaceful transition while resuming your work, you must discuss your situation, your mental health, with those around you. In some cases, on account of your mental health, your employer may consider allowing you to work from home. Under certain circumstances, the organization can help you greatly by even providing equipment to help establish your home office. In contrast, a communication gap with the employer could also be a cause of anxiety. So, it is better to speak up and get the feedback from your employer about any issues that you are facing.
Similarly, for employers and managers, it is essential for them to communicate emotional support to the people working under their supervision and help create a healthy work environment. They should take note of the fact that under the prevailing circumstances, some of their employees may have anxiety about returning to work, facing difficulty in commuting to the office daily. Thus, encouraging the employees to actively voice their concerns is necessary.
As the Coronavirus situation continues evolving, the number of affected cases is going to rise. While it is necessary to keep ourselves aware of the situation, it is wrong to keep worrying about the pandemic throughout the day. To prevent the anxiety resulting from continuous consumption of COVID related news, it is better to restrict any conversation or debate about the pandemic unless necessary.
#8 Take care of yourselves
To ensure a proper state of mind, it is necessary to get at least six to eight hours of good quality sleep at night. This helps to ensure that you are charged for the following day and maintain control over your mind. Doing breathing exercises and yoga can also help you to feel relaxed. Additionally, taking care of your meals, and having a balanced diet helps to have a sound mind.
#9 Balance your work-life and ‘fun-life’
Consider it a point to schedule some breaks between your work hours. Though the pandemic won’t allow you to go out with your friends and attend fun events, there are other ways by which you can break the monotonous work-life. This may include simple activities like a short walk in the nearby park. Introducing the things that you truly enjoy in your daily routine can greatly help you to push down your anxiety levels, and act as ‘mind-boosters’ to lift you and make it easy for you to adjust with the ‘new normal’.
#10 Talk to loved ones around you
Being open to your loved ones and discussing all your issues with them and seeking their opinion, is perhaps one of the best and easy methods to curb your anxiety levels. This not only helps you but also the other person with whom you are sharing your thoughts if they are also suffering from social anxiety. Talking to someone you trust helps you to clear your mind and make way for positive thoughts.
#11 Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to improve mental health and mostly is used with persons suffering from anxiety and depression. It is a clinically proven therapy that involves learning about how your thoughts affect your mood, helps to identify any destructive thought patterns, and then develops strategies accordingly to help change them. The therapy can also be effectively administered online and can prove beneficial to persons finding it hard to overcome their anxiety through other conventional methods.
Although the above methods seem very obvious and simple, they can be very effective to curb your anxiety levels. However, if you feel like you are still finding it hard to tackle anxiety, it is advisable to contact a psychologist at the earliest.
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