How to Manage Re-Entry Anxiety

As lockdown measures lift across Canada, concerns about the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain high. If you are experiencing anxiety about re-entering the workplace and resuming your regular habits, you are not alone! The good news is that there are proactive steps you can take to manage and overcome your worries.

Accept Uncertainty

You may be experiencing difficult and changeable emotions, and if so, that’s okay. Acknowledge and accept your feelings without judging them. These emotions are valid.

Respect Boundaries

Different people will have different responses to the processes of returning to work and social events. In your interactions with others, give other people the space and grace they need. At the same time, communicate your own boundaries with friends and colleagues.

Take it Slow

Ease into your regular routines by adapting the technique of graduated exposure therapy. Gently acclimatize yourself to the situation that is causing you concern. For instance, consider scheduling shorter days as you adjust to being back in the work environment.

Challenge Unhelpful Thinking

Be mindful about moments in which you may be experiencing some cognitive distortion. Are you thinking in black and white terms, overgeneralizing, making gloomy predictions about the future, or jumping to negative conclusions about what other people may be thinking about you? If so, ask yourself whether these thoughts are reasonable or helpful. Reframe your situation by recognizing that worrying won’t help.

Be Kind to Yourself

Focus on your own well-being, and remember that you are doing the best you can. Self-care is a daily practice, and it is not to be confused with selfishness. Treating yourself with kindness will help you to treat others the same way.

Reach Out to Others as Needed

Keep in mind that you are not expected to navigate this challenging time all on your own. Check in with your team-mates and co-workers regularly to figure out how you can help each other.

If you have concerns about workplace policies or needs for accommodation, address them with supervisors. Throughout your workweek, make time to talk with supportive people. There are a wide variety of supports out there, including Anxiety Canada, Headspace, and our own Stigma-Free Wellness Toolkit. It’s smart to turn to these resources when needed.

Building resilience is an ongoing project, and it is something that you can do with the help of a wider community. Re-entry anxiety may be complicated, but it can be managed. Embracing what you are learning from past and present challenges will help you—and all of us—become even stronger.