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Tips for Transitioning Back to Work

officeThe unfolding of the worldwide pandemic left a deep imprint on Americans. Not only did the event cause stay at home orders to be issued, but it greatly disrupted schedules. Many adults were forced to work from home, and kids stayed home from school. Older adults became isolated in their own homes because of being in the high-risk group for Covid-19. Despite variants that are now going around that may once again interfere with our schedules, vaccinations have largely allowed people to get “back to business as usual.” However, many folks are finding the transition from home to work stressful. Here are three tips to ease the shift.

1) Go to bed and wake up the same time every night to get a fresh start each day – People possess biological clocks; innate mechanisms that control our physiological activities, affecting functions like metabolism, blood pressure, hormone secretion and the sleep-wake cycle known as circadian rhythm. Our internal clocks help inform our bodies when it’s time to sleep or stay awake. Establishing a regular sleep schedule can help you gain adequate slumber, and even fall asleep and wake up more easily. To strive for best possible mental and physical health, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Since humans are creatures of habit, it is best to establish a sleep schedule, and stick to it. A set routine enables people to be more alert during the day and ready to relax and sleep at night. Light exposure can influence circadian rhythm. Seeing light gets the brain to send signals associated with wakefulness, thus, its best to limit artificial light at bedtime – meaning to achieve a good night’s sleep, it may be best to put away electronic devices such as cellphones, laptops, and tablets, and keep the television off.

2) Learn simple methods to reduce anxiety – It is typical to experience some anxiety with change. During Covid-19, many people lost their jobs and are faced with starting all over again doing something new, and these changes may take us out of our comfort zones. Taking time to identify the causes of anxiety can often lead to solutions that can make us feel better. Often, learning something new and meeting new people is intimidating. Understand that these feeling are temporary and call for patience. If you are stressed over remembering people’s names, use memory hacks such as repeating the name of the person you just met, linking the new name to imagery, or associating their name with a song or rhyme. Keep a positive attitude and practice ways to decrease stress. For mild anxiety, WebMD suggests the 3-3-3 rule. Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Lastly, move three parts of your body, such as your fingers, arms, or ankles. Of the rule, Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety, shares, “Whenever you feel your brain going 100 miles per hour, this mental trick can help center your mind, bringing you back to the present moment.” For serious anxiety, seek medical help immediately.

3) Get organized by prepping ahead, cutting corners, and delegating jobs at home – It’s easy to feel overwhelmed while simultaneously working and running a household and caring for children or pets. If you feel rushed, it’s important to reevaluate your schedule to see where you prep ahead, cut corners, and delegate things like home chores. Running late for work or school can be a root cause of stress. Consider doing things the night before, such as packing lunch ahead, laying out one’s wardrobe in advance, and putting things such as your briefcase by the door. Setting your clock a few minutes earlier can increase punctuality. Also use reminders for important events and tasks. Cutting corners is also important. This means doing what is essential and letting other things go. Examples include doing laundry twice a week rather than daily, ordering dinner rather than cooking on nights when you work late, and occasionally saying no to things you cannot do. This is not selfish, rather it is prioritizing your own needs and fulfilling only those duties to which you can offer your best service. Delegating involves allocating chores and allowing others to pitch in so that things get done. It incorporates the “many hands make light work” mentality.

While everyone reacts differently to situations, our physical health and mental wellbeing are significant factors that can contribute to our daily success. Therefore, it’s important to ease our transitions back to work. We can seek out steady routines, find ways to keep anxiety down, and make improvements in how we organize and operate. While there are varying amounts of stress associated with returning to work or school, once we recognize and address problems, we can gain power and confidence to overcome them, thereby increasing our chances of overall satisfaction at the workplace.

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