Preparing for the next work chapter…

Some of us are going to be returning to out-of-home work on level 3. After 2 months at home living with uncertainty, some of us may be surprised by our mixed feelings about this next step, with rising anxiety about going back to a daily workplace routine. Given the current circumstances, this is a fairly normal response. What can we do to make this transition as low-stress as possible?

What is the first thing that comes to mind – our biggest concern? If we can address that concern in a practical way, we will have come a long way in alleviating our anxiety. If your friend was telling you about this issue, what advice would you give him/her? I don’t know what your biggest worry is, but hopefully one of the possibilities below will spark some ideas that work for you.

Let’s think this through in a very practical way – what do we know about the circumstances we are going back to…and what changes to daily life can we make now that bring us closer to the daily work experience?

We know what work clothes we will be wearing. If practical, we could start wearing them during the day even now. Those of us who use make-up might want to start doing that again.

If we know what time we need to leave the house to get to work on time, we can set our alarms and practice our wake-up and go routine. This also means getting to bed on time. This may involve our children if they are in grades 12 or 7 (if they are willing to play along!) If we have children of other age groups, what will be happening to them  while we are at work? This may land up being a difficult question to navigate – we need to know they are safe.

We know we need to be more vigilant about the washing of our hands with soap for 20 seconds, not touching our faces, keeping the 1.5 meter distance when we are in the working environment. We can put a little more focus on getting this right even now, so that it is not such a big deal later.

The idea of leaving the house to work may feel quite daunting because it requires longer wearing of the mask. In the next few days, we could get used to wearing our masks for increasing periods, and perhaps run a few necessary errands we will have less time for once we are working out of the home again. It may be a good idea to make sure we have a spare mask, and a small hand-sanitizer that fits into a pocket or bag. At the same time, I suspect that we will crave seeing people’s “naked faces” without masks. It may be helpful to meet that need by setting up regular whatsapp video calls with family and friends in our free time.

We know that we will still need to buy groceries and prepare meals. If financially possible, we could do a bigger shop in preparation, and maybe even cook double portions for a few days, and freeze ready meals for those slightly more crazy days.

We probably know who our work colleagues are. If we have not had much contact with them during the last weeks, we could give some of them a whatsapp call or message to check in. Perhaps they are dealing with similar challenges and we can brainstorm together.

It may be helpful to think about what we expect the most stressful part of our workday will be. Is there something we can do to make it easier for ourselves? If it is the commute, can we listen to some relaxing music or an mp3 of an interesting talk; could we take along a good book to read?

Is there something special that we could do on our last day at home, to acknowledge the ending of one season in our lives, and the beginning of another? Something that won’t fit into a busy work day, e.g. enjoying the sunset, spending some time observing birds or insects, reading a favourite book, baking a cake, sitting in stillness for ten minutes, playing a game with the family, going for an early morning walk with your partner…

Some of these ideas may work for you, others not. What will you add?


Comic from lamalayogini.


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