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August 27, 2021

Tips For Back To Work Anxiety And More

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For many people returning to work, anxiety levels are increasing. Jess sat down with Jeff & Cheryl Hickey on Global TV’s The Morning Show to share tips for managing anxiety. They discuss what it means for hybrid teams, couples, and more.

Check out her notes and the video interview below.

If you’re feeling anxious about heading back to the office, how can you soothe your own anxiety?

Workplace-related anxiety is common during non-pandemic times with around 50% reporting that stress and anxiety affect their performance, their relationships with coworkers, and the quality of their work. Add the transition from remote work to in-person work in the midst of a pandemic and it’s no surprise that folks are experiencing anxiety that spills over in our personal lives. 70% report that workplace stress affects our relationships at home and physical symptoms are also common, so that’s where I suggest you start — with the physical.

What do you notice coming up in your body when you’re stressed about work?

  • A clenched jaw (or butt)? Can you unclench and take a few deep breaths.
  • Tightness in your chest? Can you get up and stretch it out?
  • Trouble sleeping? Can you turn off devices an hour earlier and store them far away from your bedroom?

Obviously there are many ways to address anxiety from CBT to mindfulness to medication as prescribed by your doctor, but addressing the physical manifestations first can be a good place to start.

What about for those staying home. Do their colleagues in the office have an edge? That can also lead to anxiety…

yasmina-h-p8DjPfqEhW0-unsplashThat feeling of being left out if you’re working from home and others are in the office is not unfounded. Hybridity creates power imbalances in part due to visibility. The closer you are to the manager, the more you see them in the hallway, the more they are top of mind and more likely to be recognized and credited. So first it’s important for managers to be aware of this and to talk about these power imbalances.

How can hybrid teams that are split between in-office and remote work stay connected?

You can look to create types of proximity or new “hallways”. This is more on the management side, but on your end, you can ask to be included in non-formal meetings like lunch and learns. You can ask for face time with teams and managers. You can encourage pre and post-meeting chatter online and you can track how you’re feeling in terms of job security and anxiety so that you can tie those feelings to specific interactions or lack thereof and then ask for or make adjustments accordingly.

And what about couples? Transitioning back to the office means more time apart — more conferences, after-work socials, travel perhaps. What can couples do if they’re not on the same page with spending more time apart?

This is a whole new adaptation; we are highly adaptable and over the last 17 months, we’ve adapted to a new norm whether we’ve liked it or not, and now we need to re-adapt.

For couples, this means talking about expectations — not dictating behaviour, but expressing your preferences and being open to your partner. If your partner wants to go out with colleagues after work and you’ve gotten used to having them all to yourself, that means working on your own stuff — looking for other sources of fulfillment and social support. You can express what you want, but if you try to stymie their needs, it’s more likely to lead to resentment. So these are conversations you’ll want to start having now (yesterday).

Start from a place of trying to understand their why and sharing yours; neither of you is right or wrong, so ask questions to understand rather than trying to prove a point.