Why youre anxious about returning to the office

Remember when you used to jump onto a crowded train vying for your tiny corner and pushing out your elbows just to gain that bit of space? Remember when you used to line up behind a multitude of cars waiting for the traffic to disperse?

There was no chance to think, no chance to relax, and every chance to be bored.

But you loved it…

And that, along with the office, is what we’re looking forward to this Autumn.

Welcome to waking up early, joining the rat race, and the great return to the office. 

So why are you feeling so anxious to return to a normal working day? 

We’ve got a few reasons why you will still be feeling nervous, even if you did love commuting and office life, and have been itching to go back, and what you can do to dispel any apprehension that might come your way. 

4 reasons why you are feeling anxious.

1. Change is naturally anxiety-inducing.

Even when you’re excited about going back to the office, change can cause you to feel anxious. 

In unfamiliar situations, you have to be more alert and aware of your surroundings, take in more details from your environment and, in evolutionary terms, be on the lookout for potential threats. This can cause you to feel as though you are constantly on edge and, in turn, nervous. 

So even if you are excited about the big return, it can still make you feel apprehensive and even stressed - just think about those big days that are meant to be the best days of your life, whether it’s your wedding, moving home or birthday. 

2. COVID-19 has changed the office environment.

What’s the return going to be like? Are you going to have to wear masks? Are you going to have to distance yourselves from your colleagues? Are you going to be working in bubbles?

What is the general etiquette going to be and how are you going to deal with more difficult colleagues?

And how are you going to cope with it? Is it going to harm your productivity, your relationship with colleagues or family, or your sleet pattern?

All these things are unknown until you step back into the arena, and the unknown is daunting

Gradually, you’ll slip into a new normal, but currently, you don’t know what the new normal will look like. 

And how can you prepare for something when you don’t know what that’s going to be?

3. Regardless of what you’ve avoided, you’ll always naturally feel anxious returning to it. 

Imagine you’ve been attending fitness classes at your gym for two years, but have had to put the breaks on as you’ve twisted your ankle and need to let it recover.

You LOVED these classes, and it’s where you developed friendships with others who like to work out in the same way as you. 

But after putting your feet up for eight weeks, watching more TV than you ever thought was possible, and finding it difficult to fill your time or use up your energy, you still have that nagging feeling on return.

As much as you are excited, your head is still swimming with questions.

Am I going to be able to keep up with the rest of the class? Should I be taking it easy? What happens if I injure myself all over again? 

But YOU are the one who decided it was a good idea to rest and recover. YOU are the one who imposed these rules on yourself, yet you still feel anxious on return. 

And the same process will occur on return to the office post-COVID-19. 

So now that you know that you’ll feel anxious, regardless of how excited you are about that return, what can you do about it to make the process more smooth?

5 easy ways to transition to the office and your new working life.

1. Be intentional about retaining the best parts of your work from home and office life.

Whether that’s taking your own lunch into work, having much enjoyed the non-processed element while at home, to doing the right work at the right time to suit your personality and energy levels.

If you are still working at home for some of the week, remember to retain the elements that helped you go through this as well, such as taking walks at lunch or before or after work.

2. Be prepared.

If you are nervous about returning to the office, speak to your line manager or HR department to find out more about what procedures are going to be in place. This will give you the chance to get into the right headspace before you return and have some control over your first week.

3. Make time to reform connections.

If there are a number of colleagues whom you got on very well with in the office, but have had less of a chance to speak to over the past year or so, reconnect and ask whether they want to meet for a quick coffee or drink after work.

This will help you feel less nervous in the long run about your place in the office, and how you interact with people.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Remember when you were first told that you had to work from home and couldn’t leave the house? You quickly came up with strategies that helped you through those times.

It was stressful but you adapted to it.

And this time it’s no different.

Gradually transitioning back into your former work life will take time, but your built-up anxiety will naturally subside.

And remember.

The transition will require more energy, so you may feel far more tired than you have in recent weeks. 

Speak to someone if it does all become too much for you to handle. 

Stay patient and be flexible. 

5. Have a quick way to calm yourself. 

Whether it’s deep breathing, visualising yourself calm, listening to music or getting some fresh air, have a quick technique that you can implement to calm yourself down when it all gets a bit too much.

So here you are - why YOU are suffering from anxiety on the thought of returning to the office, even when you loved it, and what you can do about it. 

How has your return been? Let us know in the comments below - we’d love to hear from you.