The global pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. Countries have shut down, offices and schools were closed, and travel restrictions are still in effect. As the world fights the virus through vaccinations and lockdowns, life slowly returns to a semblance of normal.
However, some employees are anxious to return to their ordinary lives due to the possibility of catching the virus. Anxiety and stress might kick in, but how do we fight this off?
Why Does the Idea of Going Back to Work Make Us Anxious?
Humans are naturally social species, and the pandemic changed the way we interact with each other. Isolation, distance, and fear influenced the way we think and process things.
What many don’t know is that the size and strength of people’s social networks are connected with cognitive functions like working memory and emotion processing. More significant social interactions correlate with increased volume in the amygdala, a brain region that encodes salient information in the environment, and the hippocampus, an area responsible for learning and memory, as well as the greater cortical thickness in the prefrontal cortex, a region responsible for decision making and social behavior. These two regions work together to learn about and recognize emotional cues in others to navigate our social world.
People in isolation can experience depression. However, the absence of social interaction, isolation, and loneliness lead to an increased risk for cognitive decline and other mental health consequences. This phenomenon can affect disproportionately vulnerable members of society, such as children, the elderly, and those with underlying mental health concerns.
Employees who have gotten used to working from home and interacting with fewer people can get overwhelmed initially, a feeling that can develop into anxiety. These issues can be caused by not fully exercising our social skills for a year.
We should remember to be kinder to others as this can be a challenging time for everyone. It is an excellent opportunity to become emphatic and compassionate to those battling an unseen foe.
Always Look for the Good
A lot of things have changed since March last year. We’ve learned to work from home, which may have been quite stressful in the beginning. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve learned to adapt to the new normal and become comfortable with the situation. However, it is good to remember that some still feel anxious, especially at the idea of returning to the office.
Plan and gain a sense of control over an uncertain future. You can revisit your workplace wardrobe, dust off your daily planner, look up new recipes for office lunch, or anything that can remind you of the life you used to live.
Next, look for the good reasons for returning to work. Boost your optimism and hope, and silence the worry and anxiety. Think of the co-workers you used to get breakfast with, your old office routines, and the trips on the way home. Lastly, engage yourself in activities that give you peace of mind and help pass time pleasantly while waiting for everything to be back to normal.
Taking care of our mental health is as important as looking after our physical health. Although there is still uncertainty that things will go back to how they were, it helps to condition our minds as early as now to prepare for the future.
If this is proving difficult, there are people out there who can provide solutions or treatments. Acknowledging work-related anxiety is the first step, and consulting a healthcare provider is the next.
Therapy24x7 is a 24/7 psychotherapy and life coaching company based in New York. Headed by Efrat Gotlib, we are all about finding inner peace and clarity in people. Please book a consultation today or visit our website for more information.