I know I’m not the only one returning to work soon, and so I thought I’d share my anxieties and helpers to help you feel less alone in your feelings.
One of the annoying and hard to deal with parts about going back to work after so long off is getting back into a work routine. Waking up at a certain time and being ready to leave at a certain time.
I’ve been waking up at decent times every morning, but not quite as early as I usually would for work. And this week leading up to going back, I’ve been waking at the right time to sort of train myself to get used to it again. And it’s been hard!
So my advice would be to use these days (or weeks, whatever) leading up to your return to “train” yourself back into a routine so it’s not so much of a shock.
I’m a little worried about the responsibilities I’ll have again. I’m a Teaching Assistant so I am responsible for vulnerable kids. This is fulfilling but hard work at times. To be doing that again while frazzled from so long away (not to mention that I hadn’t been doing the job for long before lockdown anyway!) is very scary.
The only thing helping me with this is that my colleagues are there for me to confide in and get help from. We are a good, lovely team and so leaning on your colleagues (not literally!) and battling it out together is the best thing right now.
The next worry of mine is that a school environment and my work in general is very high energy. As an introvert, I don’t deal as well with high energy situations and lots of people as well as extroverts do. This is fine; that’s life. However, doing this suddenly after 5 months mostly spent at home is very overwhelming.
Before working in a school, I worked in retail, so I was used to people being everywhere all the time! But now…not so much. I’m scared of feeling exhausted and losing myself.
The only way to deal with this, I think, is to be kind to yourself. Take times out to breathe in the hallways or step outside for a walk in break times to get that space. I’ll be bringing along my breathing techniques, stretches, and mindfulness to keep my calm and to rejuvenate, too.
Less free time
There’s, of course, the fact that we were sort of blessed with more free time and space, but now it’s going to be gone again.
But I’m trying to remind myself that you make time for what you want and need and enjoy. I’m lucky to work from 8-4, so I have a decent amount of time in the evenings to do things that I’ve been doing in lockdown: writing, reading, yoga, workouts, studying, time with the partner and dog, etc.
If you focus on the lack of time, you’ll feel sad. Instead, focus on the time you still have and how you can use it to your advantage.
You may feel tired after work, a lot of us do. But there are tasks or ways to organise your time so that you can still be productive and do things you enjoy on the evenings. i.e. I think I’ll do yoga as soon as I’m home as it’s something I enjoy, it’s good for me, and it energises me to then get going on studying or writing.
Of course, we are all a little nervous about the procedures and how our workplaces are handling the virus. For some reason, I’m less nervous about this than the other things. I think it’s because I know I’m a clean person anyway. I’m vigilant and that’s kind of all we can do. Protect ourselves and others, and hope that they do the same.
If you notice anything that worries you, speak up. Put your safety (and health in all ways) first.
Lastly, I’m afraid of the expectations being placed on me at work. Being thrown into the deep-end, as it were. This may be out of our control, but we can make sure to communicate with our boss about feeling overwhelmed or confused. They should know that right now is an odd time and should sort of allow for a gentle transition back into the thick of things.
And try not to expect too much from yourself the first week, too. I’m not. I’d like to, in time, do workouts before work but this first week, I’m giving myself grace and compassion and going easy. As long as I’m going to work, performing, and coming back not feeling too sad, too anxious, too tired or too hungry, I see that as an accomplishment!!
So I wish you all a safe return to work. Stay safe, try to find the good, and may our end to 2020 be positive!