A lot of people have been working remotely over the last few months. But businesses recently have started to bring more staff back into offices.
Given all the guidance during Covid-19 to stay at home and socially distance, you can understand why some people might feel a bit anxious about returning to the workplace.
Some level of anxiety is probably useful. Increased anxiety is associated with positive behavioural changes that help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Including hand washing and disinfecting doorknobs.
But what if your anxiety about going back to work becomes excessive, to the point that you avoid work and other important commitments?
Managing Anxiety – choose your news sources wisely
There are three things you can do to help manage anxiety and other mental health effects of Covid-19. First, try limiting the amount of news you watch.
While it’s important to stay informed, studies have found that during a pandemic, watching a lot of news can result in higher levels of anxiety. There is also some evidence that where you get your information matters.
Reading non‐official information can cause further, and often unnecessary, anxiety and panic . The best advice is to make sure you are getting information from reputable sources like the World Health Organisation. If you need it, the Australian Government offers guidance on hygiene and physical distancing at work.
Keep your fears in perspective
Second, when we are experiencing anxiety, we often let our thoughts run away to worst case scenarios. We might exaggerate the risk of a negative situation and forget to consider a much more likely positive outcome. Such thoughts are known as ‘cognitive distortions’.
Cognitive distortions may play out in various ways. For example, you may ‘catastrophise’. In other words, you expect the very worst possible outcome. You may also ‘overgeneralise’, or expect a single bad outcome to be representative of all outcomes.
If you find yourself having such thoughts, consider the evidence for and against this thought. Sometimes, just acknowledging that you may be exaggerating a risk is enough to keep it in perspective.
Finally, if you, or someone you know is feeling significant anxiety about the situation, talking to someone can help. Whether that be a friend or family member, or a professional, discussing your concerns often keeps things in perspective. It's important to stay vigilant about the unfolding situation. But it shouldn’t feel overwhelming.
You can access your EAP for help by calling 1800 629 277 in Australia and 0800 327 669 in New Zealand and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org