For most of us in the UK, after over a year of lockdown and social distancing, restrictions are finally starting to lift. Children have been allowed to go back to childcare, nurseries and schools. It is likely at some point in the near future, many of us will begin to transition back into working form the office rather than home. For those who have been furloughed, you may be returning to work for the first time in months and wondering if you can still remember passwords and processes.
There have been running discussion throughout the UK lockdown of the potential effects the isolation has had on people’s mental health, with loneliness, social anxiety lockdown and agoraphobia at the heart of them. For a lot of people, the lifting of restrictions in 2020 and then re-entering lockdown over Christmas was proof it was all too much too soon. The most pressing concerns of people show similar themes:
– Fear of the virus and a third peak
– Worry over face-to-face engagement at work
– Mild agoraphobia when leaving the house for the first time in weeks
– Separation anxiety from the people they have been in lockdown with
– Co-dependency on the people they have been in lockdown with
Power to the People
If you are planning to return to the workplace soon and are experiencing negative or worrying feelings, there are a few things you can do to ensure you protect your mental health. Firstly, talk things through. Sharing how you are feeling with friends and family helps keep people aware of where you’re at and what you’re working through. You may feel comforted that you’re not the only one feeling this way. It’s also important to speak to your colleagues and your manager to discuss the changes that will be made to the office and ways of working to ease your concerns.
It is likely that although you are back in the office, it won’t be the same as it was when you left and some people may find this difficult at first. Remember everyone will deal with returning to the workplace in a different way, and just because a colleague feels comfortable and is ready to return to normal, does not mean you need to go at the same pace!
Advice to Businesses Work Place Mental Health
This is a hard time for a lot of people and, though productivity and getting projects back on track is of key importance to most businesses, the welfare and wellbeing of your staff is crucial too. Many business leaders have been managing the work place mental health of their team when returning to work in similar ways:
– Approaching the discussion with information on the changes that will be made to limit social contact
– Providing time and a safe space for people to submit their concerns and for your business to answer and adapt to those concerns
– Continue to allow flexible working as a basis, especially if it’s been proven during lockdown that your team can successfully work from home
– Allow people to gradually phase themselves back into working so they can adjust physically and mentally at their own pace. This may be particularly key for those workers who have been furloughed.
– Consider providing counselling or training in mental health first aid to ensure you are prepared and qualified to talk wellbeing with staff
With careful consideration and open communication, we believe all employers and employees can comfortably return to work when restrictions allow, if work place mental health is at the forefront of their discussions.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are Cognitive Behavioural Therapists or Psychologists. All offer evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. You can book an appointment using our online booking system or for more information please call us on 01865 920077.
More tips on how to create a postive work life balance.