Sushmita Roy works as a counselling psychologist at Medall Mind. In her 16 years of experience in mental health, she has done extensive work with people having various behavioural & emotional concerns. Her work aims at mitigating stress and anxiety in order to improve the overall quality of life. Sushmita is engaged with reputable firms & educational institutions to drive and promote mental health initiatives. She specialises in corporate wellness and mindfulness, has conducted several wellness workshops and personal counselling sessions. She is a certified relationship coach and REBT mindset life coach. Prior to Medall, she worked as a wellness expert and psychologist with Deloitte and Tech Mahindra.
You are not alone if you are feeling anxious about returning to office. After almost two years of remote working, dialling in for meetings and connecting with co-workers online, the idea of seeing people and getting back full-fledged can certainly be overwhelming. Transitions can spike anxiety in us.
There was a time, not too long ago, when we all lived a more carefree life. Little did we know that something was lurking in the corner which could fundamentally alter the way we live, work and interact with our friends and relatives? Never-before-heard-of terminologies like “new normal”, “social distancing” started emerging. School-going children who were so used to boarding their buses in the mornings were confined to the four walls with classes going online. The office goers were largely cooped up home, glued to their computer screens with endless hours of online meetings.
The COVID-induced restrictions and lockdown from March to June 2020 was an eye-opener for everyone. Our guards were up all the time, conserved resources, being cautious and just hung-in there. July 2020 with lockdowns being lifted and relaxations being eased, just when normalcy seemed to be returning and our guards went down, the second wave of the pandemic caught us unaware in early 2021. This amplified mental health issues, stress and anxiety were big concerns and a lack of sleep was almost unanimous with declining mental health.
With the dust settling post the second wave and vaccines in place, schools and workplaces are beginning to reopen after a long hiatus. As workplaces begin to reopen, there hangs a thick air of scepticism. Anxiety of returning to the old normal and the fear of contracting the virus are back. Stress is at an all-time high as workplaces and schools begin to reopen. We bring you some tips on how to mitigate this stress and anxiety.
- Take all the time you need: It is okay if your pace of returning to the old normal is slower than others. Don’t succumb to the pressure around you to get adjusted to new routines. We all cope differently to changing realities.
- Be in the “here and now”: Do something today to make your tomorrow better with the resources available. With uncertainty on every side and your mind wandering, focus on the present moment. Practice mindfulness and bring your mind back to reality to keep yourself grounded.
- Do your thing: Determine what you can control. Concentrate on your influence only. The key to sailing through this is to maintain your mental balance, follow all safety protocols, get vaccinated and eat & think healthy.
- Take inspiration from each other: Nothing works betters in these difficult times than learning from others how they navigated through the troubled times. Observing and learning from your colleagues on how they embrace change and deal with it, can open up your awareness and possibilities to learn and grow together. It also helps in understanding that we are not alone in this.
- Setting SMART goals: Getting back to the old routine after a long gap can be difficult and frustrating. Set SMART goals to start off and reward yourself for even a small goal achieved. We progress inch by inch.
- Build emotional awareness: Check-in with yourself. Be aware of your emotional state. Educate yourself and support those around you to help them navigate through their discomfort. With awareness comes change.
- Exercise self-care: You can’t pour out of an empty cup. It’s imperative that you look after yourself to take care of your significant others.
- Celebrate: Celebrate small wins and appreciate one another to build a positive work environment
- Break the stigma: The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns and confinement to homes have severely impacted our mental wellness. While coping with your own distress, help your friends and fellow colleagues navigate through tough emotions. Help and support each other through this.
- Be each other’s armour: Don’t hesitate to seek and offer help. It is the time to support each other and build a strong community.
- Channelize energies: Times such as these are hard with not many avenues to venture out into the open. Use this time to revive a hobby that you were passionate about back in the days. Or start a new hobby. It is never too late to learn something new.
- Cut down on social media: “Social media is the thief of joy (if you let it be)”. This quote neatly sums up what social media can do to oneself. It is a well-known fact that not all that is circulated on these platforms are true. During times such as these the tendency to get carried away by posts about the pandemic is at an all-time high as people are keen to know the daily caseloads, government measures to control the spread of the pandemic…to name a few. Many of these could be making you feel stressed. Be mindful of your feeds because what you watch, read, or listen could have an impact over you. Restrict the updates to specific times of the day and not throughout the day.
- Follow a regime: This is the time to put in place a regime for healthy eating, adequate exercising and sleeping. All these have a significant role to play on the mind and body.
To sum up, the employers need to show empathy and patience and open the channels of communication to support their employees through this transition phase. They must prioritise mental health and well-being in their organisations and help reduce the stigma around it. By doing so they not only provide a safe space for employees to express themselves without a fear of judgement but also bring mental health concerns out in the open.