With states, communities and businesses reopening, many employees are facing concerns about anxiety that might arise during their work hours. Companies are doing their best to increase physical safety measures, social distancing, improved sanitizer stations, masks and thorough cleaning of office spaces. However, you might still feel anxiety during your workday. Your stress is normal due to the uncertainty of our current state of affairs—the unknown factors of the disease, financial concerns, distancing from others and trying to keep the family safe at home.1 One way to counter these concerns is to consider mental well-being as a priority during your work hours.
As you return to a new work atmosphere, it is normal for anxiety to carry over. You may still feel uncertainty about the disease, and you may have concern for yourself and your family after leaving the safety of your home environment. There are some convenient ways to manage your stress and even ways to lessen it or prevent the anxiety from happening.
Often what your mind and body need to address your concerns is within your reach, and managing anxiety can be accomplished with some tools that don’t cost anything.2 When you practice coping with stress and continuing to follow the protocol for protection from the virus, your anxiety can be reduced.
The following are some tips to manage anxiety in your workplace.
- Plan for your week at work and practice self-care. Be prepared to fuel your body and stay hydrated. Bring wholesome snacks, lunches and plenty of water to mitigate the fatigue that anxiety can create. Establish healthy sleep routines and exercise throughout your week. You can use your lunch break for a power walk or stretches to keep your body feeling healthy.
- Maintain a routine at home and work. Your schedule is what your mind and body can count on when other areas in your life are unstable. You might consider limiting your intake of media coverage and news articles to only certain times of the week. Limiting your time on media during your workday will help you to maintain focus and productivity.
- Stay connected. You are not the only one who is returning to work, and many of your colleagues are feeling the same way. Share your positive and negative experiences with a friend, colleague or family member.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety, depression and even chronic pain as well as help to create a healthier immune system. Long term meditation can cause functional changes in the brain, which can lead to a sense of calm.3 You can download apps like MyLife (formerly known as Stop, Breathe & Think) or Unwinding Anxiety that offer guided meditation and other mindfulness exercises for specific situations.
- Remind yourself to practice deep breathing. Breathing techniques are easy to learn and will have an instant effect by creating calm in your body and give you better access to logic and reasoning. Try pausing to practice this deep breathing while at home to become familiar with the exercise. With regular practice, breathing techniques can lessen anxiety and counteract the detrimental effects of stress, anxiety and depression.4
- Practice daily gratitude. Challenge yourself to find three things for which you are grateful each day. Gratitude will help to increase positive emotions and memories. During this challenging time, you may have negative emotions from things going on around you; these positive emotions will help to provide some balance and increase well-being.5
- Implement Eco-therapy into your weekly routine at work. Spend some time in nature. A walk among the trees and feeling the sun or wind can lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Stepping outside during a break can help to clear your mind and give you a new perspective. Remember to follow safety and social distancing practices.5
Implementing these daily routines can have positive benefits for your mental well-being at work and home. Sometimes it is helpful to write down the above seven steps and schedule them into your week. For example, you might practice gratitude and deep breathing every morning before you go to work, however only walk twenty minutes three days a week. You might create time on Sundays to prep your lunches for the week or schedule Saturdays to hike with a friend. You can determine your schedule and the benefits to implementing these steps. Challenge yourself to make your mental well-being a priority.
1Sood S. “Psychological effects of the Coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic.” Rhime. 2020; 7:23-6. accessed June 4, 2020.
2Matthew Zimmerman, Sanah Ali, Nicholas Jones and Neal Maskrey, "Practical tips for clinicians helping patients with COVID-related anxiety/distress,” (2020), accessed June 4, 2020.
3C. Behan, “The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as Covid-19,” Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine (2020), accessed June 4, 2020.
4Ravinder Jerathet al, “Self-Regulation of Breathing as a primary treatment for anxiety,” Springer (2015), accessed June 4, 2020.
5John C. Norcross and Colleen M. Phillips, “Psychologist self-care during the pandemic: now more than ever,” Journal of Health Service Psychology (2020), accessed June 4.
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This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice or used in place of consulting a licensed professional. You should consult with an applicable licensed professional to determine what is right for you.