These last few months, we’ve all been experiencing our fair share of figurative whiplash as we ride the “pandemic rollercoaster.” Even as Covid-19 numbers swing upwards again, many people are navigating the transition back to in-office work. Those transitions come packed with worry, anxiety, and even more uncertainty. So, it’s a good time to buckle up! Even when you may not be able to control much of your work environment, you can take steps to protect your mental health as you return to in-office settings.
- Ease into the transition. Consider doing a few “dry runs” before your first day back to the office so you can re-acclimate to some aspects of your pre-pandemic routine.
- Refresh your office space. Tidy up and add a new plant or decor to brighten your space.
- Plan lunch with your colleagues. It will be good to connect with co-workers before your first day back, minimizing awkwardness and anxiety!
- Freshen up your wardrobe. Having some new things to wear may help lessen the impact of having to trade yoga pants and slippers for office wear.
- Make sleep a priority. Adding a commute back to your morning may mean cutting into sleep time in the morning. So, make sure you’re getting enough sleep which helps lessen the stress of transitions.
- Know your boundaries. Have a clear sense of what you’re comfortable with in terms of physical distancing and masking. Everyone in your office may be at different places with their comfort level, and that’s okay. Having clarity about what is important to you will make it easier to communicate with others.
- It’s okay to not be okay. Transitions are hard, and it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and unsure. That’s normal. Extend grace and empathy to yourself as you adapt.
- Ask for help. Recognize when you may need extra support and seek it out before returning to work or after. Therapeutic settings are great places to develop skills for transition and recognize your strengths.
Especially if you are already managing a current mental health diagnosis, you need to pay special attention to how this transition is affecting you. Take advantage of free online resources, such as NAMI Central Texas’ classes and support groups, to keep yourself on track.
Karen Ranus, Director of Workplace Programming
Karen Ranus recently became the Director of Workplace Programming for NAMI Central Texas after serving as the organization’s Executive Director for more than eight years. In this new capacity, Karen directs the programming for workplaces focused on addressing employee mental wellness and committed to providing an environment that supports a healthier and more engaged workforce. She is engaged in several community mental health coalitions and has received national recognition for her work with NAMI. Karen has developed and implemented numerous mental health programs to address the needs of faith communities, law enforcement, workplaces and parents of teens. She believes in the power of storytelling to engage people in important mental health conversations and often shares her own family's story to encourage her community to speak up about mental health.