For the Past Year and 4 Months...
We have shared a collective experience that has impacted us on so many levels. We’ve been through loss, worry, sadness, stress and so much more. I know for me, I was struggling through this pandemic. You can read about my experience here.
Now, as we attempt to return to some sense of normalcy, we may start to notice feelings of anxiety. As more and more people are getting vaccinated, many places of employment are starting to have employees go back to in-person work. Going back to in-person work seems inevitable for many places that can’t offer work from home like essential workers.
What if I am Not Ready to go Back to Work?
It’s okay if you are not ready to go back. We just experienced over a year of shelter in place where we had to be cautious about our possible exposure to COVID19. In all honesty, although I am vaccinated I still get anxious about going back to in-person work. Anytime I’m in public, I begin feeling anxious and start thinking things like, “I was too close to someone?”, “were too many people”, & “how this can impact my family”, and the list goes on.
If you are not able to ease back into working in person because of your employment requirements, keep reading for some support.
Work After COVID-19
I acknowledge that some folks were not able to work from home and have been working in person since the beginning of the pandemic. I imagine that anxiety and worry may be running high now that some state mandates have been lifted. Although we cannot change what our employer, our city, county or state requires, we can begin to deal with what comes up for us.
Ways to Prepare for Going Back to Work After COVID-19
“Be kind to Yourself”
It’s not easy to just jump into something when we have been so used to working from our own home or under particular safety measures.
If you do go back to work, some days may be easier than others. Some days may be tough and full of stress and worry or you may not have any feelings about it at all.
Whatever your reaction is as you go back to work after the COVID19 shelter in place, be easy on yourself and know that what you are feeling is valid. Try not to judge what comes up and understand that you are adjusting to something new and it’s okay to take your time. Try not to compare yourself to others if even if they seem okay with being back in person. Remember: Everyone is different.
Pay attention to Your Body and What It Is Telling You
Our body can tell us a lot about what we may be feeling and our comfort levels with particular situations. Pay attention to what your body is telling you about your limits.
Does your heart start racing when there are more than 3 people in a room? Do you start getting anxious when someone is not wearing a mask? Do you feel like you want to leave a space if it is not well ventilated?
Whatever it is that is coming up, pay attention as it is communicating something to you.
Honor Your Needs
It may take us a while to transition back into working in our new spaces and as we go through this process it’s important to honor your needs.
Everyone will have different needs and ways to cope with this transition so make sure to honor your own needs to ensure you feel comfortable and safe at work.
Do you need to bring in a small air purifier to make you feel better about being indoors? Do it.
Need to spray the room with Lysol or wipe down surfaces after someone visits your office? Give yourself 10 minutes to do this between meetings.
Would having a cleaning protocol in shared spaces make you feel better? Suggest one or create one.
Takeaway: All of us are different and have different needs. As you begin to transition back to work in person with fewer restrictions, remember to care for yourself, take deep breaths, and listen to what your body needs.
Zeyda is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in children and youth mental health. She helps youth and families make meaning of their experiences and supports caregivers in better understanding their children. Zeyda also created her wellness blog to make her knowledge as a therapist accessible. Her work is inspired by being 1st generation Mexicana raised in Los Angeles and by her ancestor who made all of these career opportunities possible.