Anxious about returning to the office, experts offer advice on how to cope / Public News Service
With COVID cases dwindling, more employers are asking workers to return to the office for the first time since the pandemic began, and mental health professionals have said there are ways to manage the stress and anxiety of this big change.
Rates of anxiety and depression among American adults were four times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than they were in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr Hillary Ammon, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said a change in routine, like where you work, can be stressful, but there are ways to deal with those feelings. .
“What I would recommend is that people start trying to get into some of these routines that might feel like the workplace,” Ammon advised. “So if that’s really the case, you know, you have a very structured workday and you’ve had more flexibility working from home, can you try to structure your day to be more like this working environment ?”
Ammon suggested practicing driving or taking public transportation to make your return to work easier, as well as meal planning and preparation.
Dr. Nicole Brady, UnitedHealthcare’s chief employer and individual business physician in Wisconsin and Michigan, said fears of catching COVID in the office can also be a trigger for stress. She urged having an open line of communication with your employer about the protocols in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We all know that masks are effective and are certainly reasonable at all times, regardless of the levels in your community at the time,” Brady pointed out. “We know that vaccines are very effective in preventing infection.”
Other tips include suggesting staggered working hours or days to your manager, to limit the number of people in the office at the same time. The CDC recommends employees with symptoms of COVID notify their supervisors, get tested, and stay home until they feel better.
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