We all know it’s essential to take time away from work once in a while. Getting away is a great way to improve both our mental and physical health away from the workplace. The goal is to come back recharged and ready to go! However, for some people, just the thought of returning to the office can cause dread, stress, and anxiety. Even anticipating work can be bad for our health.
There’s anticipation about the commute, the long workdays, tasks that piled up while you were away, and more. All of this can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.
How Does Anxiety Affect Us in the Workplace?
When you have a job that may be stressful, going back to work after time off can be extremely challenging. This is especially the case if your time off was relaxing. When you no longer enjoy your work, it’s easy to lose motivation and develop a positive attitude about doing back to work. This is when anxiety tends to set in. You may notice your thoughts are more negative, and your perception of situations/outcomes is also not rosy.
What’s more, if people face workplace bullying and/or challenging work relationships with colleagues, this can also cause high levels of stress and anxiety when it’s time to head back to work.
Another determining factor on anxiety and going back to work is how the time off was spent. For instance, those who drank too much alcohol may find they have a very negative attitude and simply feel bad.
Heading back to work is also difficult for those who deal with clinical anxiety. They may find they’re easily overwhelmed with just the prospect of heading back to work. And the energy needed to be fully focused and present at work can also be debilitating.
Catastrophizing & Stress
Another issue is that people may become worried about going back to work and begin to create catastrophizing situations. This only leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety when going back to work after a break.
Handling Back to Work Anxiety
Here are some tips to help if you’re dealing with anxiety about heading back to work.
1). Speak with Your Boss
It may help to talk with your boss about the worries and anxiety you feel going back to work. Always bring this up in a polite manner and at the right time. Asking your boss to set aside a time when you two can meet is always best.
As you discuss the situation, be clear about what the issues are. Are you dealing with a hectic commute? Then maybe ask if a flexible work schedule is possible, even if it’s only for a short time.
In addition, when you get back to work, don’t take on more than you can manage. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then let your boss know.
It’s a good idea to have your thoughts set down in notes before meeting with your boss. This way, you won’t forget to cover the most important details or be side-tracked in the conversation.
2). Prepare for Going Back to Work
Before leaving for time off, consider doing some preparation for your return to work. This may be the very last thing you’d like to think about. After all, you’re just ready to get out of there! However, preparing things ahead can really help you cope better when it’s time to go back to work.
Before you leave, be sure all your work and tasks are finished. Also, consider preparing to-lists for when you return. This way, you won’t feel so overwhelmed by everything when you get back. Nothing is worse than coming back to a desk piled sky-high with work.
In addition, commit to a routine for when you come back from time off. This could mean getting up a little earlier every day and preparing lunches in advance. It could even include preparing meals on the weekend for the week ahead. Try to do whatever you can to make the process of heading back to work easier on yourself.
3). Set Realistic Expectations
While preparing for your routine can be extremely helpful, remember to keep your expectations realistic. In other words, be kind to yourself the first week or two back to work. The first few days may be challenging, but that’s to be expected. Just make sure you’re not taking on too much or doing too much during this initial period.
For instance, break tasks down into smaller steps. Bite-sized pieces are much easier to deal with and are not as overwhelming. Use this method both at home and at work to help relieve stress and anxiety.
There’s no question that some of us tend to become anxious and project ahead, worrying about issues that may or may not happen. This is where mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings, right now, in the moment. This method can do wonders to improve stress and anxiety.
If you start feeling anxious about going back to work, then practice deep breathing. This is a great way to keep these feelings at bay. The best method is to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you’re breathing, focus on your chest rising and falling for about three minutes. Breathing out should take longer than breathing in.
What’s more, you can even practice mindfulness during physical activity. Studies have shown that physical activity works to produce brain chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are called the “feel good” brain chemicals because they do just that—make you feel good! Endorphins help to boost your mood and more.
While exercise may be the last thing you want to do when heading back to work, even a walk can help. Walking, doing yoga, or other types of gentle exercise are enough to improve your feelings and reduce anxiety.
5). Plan Something Fun
Be sure to plan some fun activities for when you head back to work. This may be having lunch with friends, meeting for drinks after work, seeing family and friends on the weekend, and more. The key is to plan something fun, which you can look forward to. This is a great way to help relieve anxiety about going back to work.
6). Seek Professional Assistance
Finally, if the methods above don’t work, then don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about seeing a professional get help. Your doctor will be able to direct you to the right place to seek assistance.
And don’t feel bad about needing professional help. There’s no shame involved, and it can help you feel better over the long run. If anxiety is left untreated, it can become worse. So, seek help before your anxiety gets to this point.
There you have it! These are some of the methods you can use to relieve feelings of overwhelm and anxiety when heading back to work after a break.
Written by the team at Offyx