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Health Advice
Return to work anxiety
Louise Newby, from Three Eggs Training, explores how improving resilience can make going back to work after lockdown a positive experience for everyone
 Have you ever experienced the ‘Sunday afternoon blues’? That sick to the stomach feeling as your mind
switches from thoughts of weekend activities to returning to work on a Monday morning? Or maybe you recall from childhood the ‘end of summer holiday sadness’, as the endless weeks of lazing about in the sunshine came abruptly to a halt and it was time to pack your school bag for the start of a new academic year?
As the lockdown ends and people begin returning to work, many will experience a similar sense of anxiety. Those who have been working from home have had time to get used to this new way of working. Not having to commute to the office each day will have added precious minutes to their daily lives to extend their time in bed, spend more time exercising, or just have breakfast as a family. For others who were furloughed, the initial shock of not working may have gradually been replaced by finding new ways to spend each day, enjoying hobbies, learning new skills, or just catching up on the box sets and books that have been waiting to be consumed for years.
Change is a trigger for anxiety. Yet change is a normal part of life and learning to manage our experience of change makes us more resilient. Often change is associated with a situation over which we feel we have no control – the
lockdown has certainly been one of those. Many people react to situations like these by becoming fixated on events or people who they cannot influence – just look at the way Twitter feeds quickly became dominated by people from all walks of life desperate to share their opinions on decisions made during the pandemic.
However, it’s much more helpful to focus on situations that we can control and think about what you can take responsibility for – it might be what you plan to wear, or take for lunch, what you plan to do in your lunch break, or some adjustments you’re going to make to your working hours, for example.
There may be a sense of loss associated with returning to the workplace – losing additional time you’ve spent with your family, losing a colleague who’s been made redundant, or losing a big project that had been really important before this all started. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel, accept the sadness associated with it and talk to others who are in the same situation.
It can be all too easy to slip into a habit of negative thoughts, associated with constantly worrying about the ‘what ifs?’ At times like this, it’s important to try to change your thoughts – remember the times you have experienced change in the past and how you successfully came out the other side. Try to focus on your strengths and the things that have gone well, rather than the negatives and things that might happen. Resilient people
recognise the skills they have used in the past to give them the confidence to navigate new challenges successfully.
It is inevitable that many people will be worrying about what the future holds. None of us has a crystal ball and speculating about what might happen stops you focusing on the here and now. Try to stay present and concentrate on what you’re doing today. Observe what’s going on around you and if you feel your mind constantly being drawn to worrying about the future, use techniques like mindfulness to help you stay focused.
The most resilient people try to see change as an opportunity, rather than an impending disaster. This time may have given you a chance to think about your career and the direction that you want to take it in. This might mean going for a

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