Focus on mental health as you return to work

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As we enter into the next stage of the governor’s plan, you may be someone who is gearing up to head back to work. Though you might be ready to regain a sense of normalcy, you also could be filled with a sense of dread and anxiety as it relates to reentering the workplace amidst this ongoing pandemic.

You might be worried about the roll-out plan released by your employer, or you could be anxious about once again leaving your kids at home. Regardless of what your fears are, it’s important to know nervousness is a normal response, and you’re not alone in it.

As a mental health nonprofit focused on working with Michigan’s youth, we want to provide helpful tips that can be implemented to help mentally prepare you for your post-COVID-19 workplace.

Be patient

Our world is moving at a different pace than we are used to, and it likely will for a long time. Having patience with yourself, your employer and your community is essential to maintaining a balanced healthy mental well-being.

We are all trying to wrap our heads around the crisis and what life will look like moving forward. Right now, try to give yourself and those around you grace as we all come to terms with our new normal.

We are all working to rebuild and move forward, but it is unrealistic to assume life will pick right back up where we left it. Remember, nobody has all of the answers, but by treating yourself and your employer with care and patience, you can help to ease the transition. Find ways to continue to be proactive. If you are nervous about exposure to others within the workplace or the number of precautions your employer is taking, have a conversation with your supervisor. Try to keep in mind they are doing the best they can to ensure the safety of each employee, including you.

Distract yourself

Try to keep busy, both during work hours and outside of them. Our minds tend to jump to the worst possible scenario, but a good way to shift that mindset is by dedicating that mental power to a positive outlet — perhaps you’re a runner, or maybe you enjoy reading or completing DIY projects. You could even challenge yourself to learn a new skill. Whatever your healthy go-to distraction is, try to find ways to continue to grow.

Even during work hours, try to find time for yourself to focus on your mental health. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and take a trip outside on your lunch break. Use this time to find an additional outlet for relieving your stress. It can help to distract from the day’s work and keep your mind from wandering to negative thoughts.

Reflect on the positives

In stressful times, staying tapped into the positives is a great way to reframe your thinking. If you are someone headed back to work soon, try to stay thankful that you have a job to return to, even if you’d rather continue working from home.

During this time, when so many have lost their source of income, reflect and be grateful you have a roof over your head, a family to be supported by and food on the table.

By repositioning your worries and stresses as an opportunity to improve and something to be grateful for, you can continue to reshape your frame of thought in a positive way.

Talk to someone

We are all dealing with a lot of emotions, and that is completely normal. If you are feeling overwhelmed, pick up the phone and call a friend or send them a text and let them know you are thinking of them. We are, by nature, social creatures who crave conversation and connections. Keeping in touch with loved ones is a perfect way to maintain your mental health and continue to feel a sense of normalcy.

Continue to foster an open dialogue within your workplace or household, as well. This is not the time to stay quiet but, instead, is the best time to find solutions and continue to build stronger relationships.

Try to take it day by day and remember it will get better. Reaching out to a loved one or a professional during this time is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It means that you are prioritizing yourself, your health, and your ability to love and serve those around you.

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