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Beat back to work anxiety - 30/06/2020 :: 31/12/2020

How to manage your back to work anxiety 

Parts of the article orginated from: 

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, people’s anxiety levels shot up. Daily reports were coming in about the number of new deaths, there was global chaos and people had to be persuaded to stay inside. And even though this was difficult, we somehow managed to pull through. We slowly became used to our new lives in lockdown, and our anxiety began to subside.

This anxiety is mainly related to uncertainty. We don’t know what the future will hold and this can keep us up at night. It can trigger excessive worrying, and it can even lead to physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

For people with a pre-existing anxiety disorder or depression, the coronavirus pandemic is a recipe for disaster. Going back out into society might trigger or revive past conditions – such as health anxiety. We’re advised to wash our hands frequently and keep our distance from others at all times – but there is a point when safety behaviours begin to morph into mental disorders.

Sometimes we think that worrying serves a useful purpose, making us vigilant and prepared. We believe that it can help us arrive at a better solution by being proactive about a situation. But worrying for even a short amount of time predisposes us to even more worrying. And before we know it, we’re stuck in a vicious cycle which we can’t escape.

It is a myth that worrying helps us arrive at a better solution. It only makes us feel anxious and stressed – especially if the worrying becomes chronic. Just knowing this can help us take useful steps forward, because we can let go of those anxious thoughts. And most of our worries won’t come true anyway. When researchers at Penn State University asked people to track their anxieties and revisit them at a later point, they saw that 91% of the participants’ worries didn’t come true.

Giving up control

Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done. Sometimes it is very difficult to stop worrying. Sometimes we can’t stop cleaning, and begin to perform repetitive behaviours that can turn into OCD. The way that OCD oftentimes starts is with repetitive, fixed ideas. People read news stories about coronavirus and start worrying that they might get infected if they go back out.

To alleviate this anxiety, they begin to engage in behaviours – such as repetitive, excessive hand-washing – to avert the dreaded outcome. When they do this, they are trying to take control of the situation. But the more they indulge their obsessions, the more – ironically – they begin to lose control. They become unable to rein in their thoughts and lose power over their actions. At this point, OCD has a stronghold over the person and they can’t get out.

This can help us see things more clearly and with a calmer mindset. It also helps us make better decisions. And if you’re worried about restrictions lifting and having to take a crowded tube again - remember, that any anxiety you will be feeling as you’re on that tube will subside. It’s temporary and you will bounce back from it. This is the nature of anxiety, and research has shown this time and again.

Master your life

Another good way to maintain your mental health during this time of constant change and uncertainty is to introduce a positive agenda into your daily routine. How do you do that? By scheduling positive activities into your life and monitoring them. This may include short walks in parks, trying a new recipe or anything else you might enjoy. It’s also important to track yourself to make sure you’re doing such activities on a consistent basis.

When we take the time to engage in pleasant activities, research shows that we not only begin to feel pleasure, but we gain “mastery”. When you have mastery, you start to feel satisfied, having a sense of achievement and control. If you suffer from depression, this technique is particularly useful – it’s like a crane that can help lift you out of a low state. And we know that low mood is something many people have been feeling during this pandemic.

But the road to mastery can be scary to some people. Scheduling things into your life that make you feel happy can be frightening, especially if depression has been a part of your life for a long time.

The rollercoaster of emotions we’ve been experiencing throughout this pandemic might also make us cautious of being too happy too quickly. You might have superstitious thoughts that, if you feel good, something bad will happen. You may worry that it won’t last, or that you’ll get hurt. Isn’t it better to have low expectations – not get too excited and maintain a position of “defensive pessimism”?

Research tells us that the answer is no. Because when we don’t hope and aim for happiness, our lives become a flat line. And isn’t it better to experience a life with ups and down, like a wave with crests and troughs? Embracing life can have a significant impact on our mental health and places us on a path to wellbeing – even during a pandemic


Let’s take a quick look at what happens when you have anxiety at work.
  • Extreme restlessness at work
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Nervousness before taking work related decision, meetings and presentation
  • Feeling lost and flustered at work

If you believe some of your problems are addressed correctly here; then you may want to get professional help.


Dealing with anxiety and staying positive: 5 things you must know

Being anxious or suffering from anxiety is not your fault and may be extremely difficult to deal with. Your situations are understandable; just know that you are way more worthy than you think you are. Take a deep breath, smile and read on.


1. Professional Help – Call Helpline 1300 643 287 

This will be useful to get the appropriate help enabling you to handle anxiety, depression and stress properly. You need to talk to someone and share what is going inside your mind without feeling judged. Some tools or techniques would be helpful in dealing with these conditions. Professional Psychologists can help you in achieving this in a confidential and safe environment. This is a great way of dealing with your anxiety and staying positive.


2. Communicate with your colleagues

If you are working in the same place when you return to work, then if nothing else commit to going through the motions.. You will be able to gage the reactions of your colleges and in most cases they will try to be sensitive to your feelings. If you are able to talk about it then let them know you are happy to answer some general questions. If not and you feel the need to say something give them a general statement and thank them for understanding. Letting them know you will be in a better place to discuss it in more details at a letter date. After all, you are still on the go with these co-workers. It will also give you a sense of control by you deciding what will and will not happen. Know what you will do and how you will approach it will make you feel a lot better and how you communicate may partially take the tension off the situation.

Once you start communicating, you should start to feel more confident.


3. Advocate yourself!

Don’t depend on other people and their help. Before anyone else, you need to help yourself. Anytime you feel there is some perceived opposition or even harassment going on, try to deal with it on the spot so it doesn’t end up as an HR related issue. In many cases it can often be a case of different perceptions on the situation. You may have to alter your communication strategy for certain individuals.


4. Work

At your workplace, focusing on your work and getting things done will make you feel a lot better. Getting things done and being part of the team makes you a valuable member of that team and should rally support to easing your integration back to work. It will also act to build your self confidence

If you decide that you take this approach here is a friendly caution. Initially don’t commit to more than you can do. Rather, showcase your excellence at the given work. At this stage it is important to be seen as doing a good job even if its not as fast as before. With time things will sort themselves out.


5. Activities to do

If you can add some activities at work, it will make things much easier to deal with and help you to stay positive. Creating a positive attitude and perspective on things may be helpful. Some ways of altering your perception of things are:

  • Consider your work as tasks and make it fun. Don’t bore rather challenge yourself at work.
  • Make inside jokes with yourself.
  • Write your issues on a bingo card. If you get a bingo; then don’t forget to treat yourself.
  • Be creative and change the bad moments into creative work stories.


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