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Fear of Returning to the Office

How can you effectively address the anxiety surrounding the return to the office

Nina Stephenson-Camps

Mindset Coach

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55% of workers are anxious about returning to work*

Think about this: Over the past year, we've been taught that everyone outside of our bubble—stranger or not—is a potential danger. Where once there was ease and familiarity now there is caution. And that’s before we even touch on the divisive topic of personal choice and vaccination which is now more than a loud murmur. 

Even the people we love are a potential danger. We've gone back to this 'Who are we supposed to trust?' game—and our brain has been doing this for over a year. 

It’s counterproductive to the whole "getting back to normal thing," and this is the reason why so many people are feeling verifying/ heightened levels of hesitation about returning to your workplace. 

Consider this: You’ve been conducting work and your personal life on a screen for over a year. This has impacted heavily on the intuitive part of your brain (your subconscious) which has been off duty for so long. This means when it comes to interacting with humans in ‘real life’ you’re not as attuned as you were before. Your own intuitive cues are hard to access and it’s exactly this that can cause anxiety. 

There’s more; while our intuitive muscles need re energising in order to meet the diverse needs of business, people are feeling quite scared about returning to the office for a multitude of reasons.

Worries around health, social interaction and career progression all manifest in a variety of ways. It’s vital your teams and leaders upskill so they are aware of the signs and have effective tools to manage the inevitable challenges. It’s now up to organisations to prove to employees they can support them during this transitional phase. 

Feeling anxious about going back to the office doesn’t mean you’re fragile or have poor coping skills. There are good reasons these types of transitions spike our anxiety.

Nina Stephenson-Camps, Mindset Coach

What’s the solution? We need to look at how we adjust. To take an honest look at how and when anxiety shows up within ourselves, throughout the organisation, and have tools in place to positively manage the situations. Thankfully there are approaches we can practice to support ourselves to move through this transition (and many more) as and when they arise. 

One of the simplest ways to do this is by connecting with your breath. In doing so, we’re able to reset our parasympathetic nervous system and bring ourselves into the present moment so we can navigate anxiety inducing situations with grace and ease. 

Feeling anxious about going back to the office doesn’t mean you’re fragile or have poor coping skills. There are good reasons these types of transitions spike our anxiety. The good news is, there are simple approaches we can take to positively support ourselves as we navigate this transition:

  1. Practice breathing deeply and slowly. In-hale through your nose to the count of 5 and exhale very slowly to the count of 10
  2. Create digital breaks throughout your day and stick to them! It only needs to be 10mins to create a positive shift. 
  3. Prepare one or two affirmations that you can say to yourself when anxiety strikes e.g. ‘Everything will be ok’, ‘I’ve got this’
  4. Practice breathing correctly - so filling your lungs up to their full capacity and slowly exhaling so when anxiety strikes you have your ‘reset technique’ easy to hand 
  5. When anxious, focus on a particular object and look at every aspect of it. Look at the curves, the colour, the finish of the object. This is a visual mindfulness technique - very easy to practice in any situation. This will bring you into the present moment so you can manage the situation at hand, rather than approaching it through an anxiety lens which is always based on the past or future. Never the present moment

The impact of the lockdowns has impacted each and everyone of us. No one, and I mean no one has escaped this unscathed. We all bear the anxiety wounds in some way or another. Whether that shows up an physical anxiety when we are around other people,  noticing we’re checking the number of people on a train or worried about the new ways to do things in the office - one way or another the fall out from the pandemic is only now just starting to show up in how people behave. Behaviour is based on thoughts and beliefs. 

The impact of the lockdowns has impacted each and everyone of us. No one, and I mean no one has escaped this unscathed. We all bear the anxiety wounds in some way or another.

Nina Stephenson-Camps, Mindset Coach

By getting honest and addressing where anxiety arises, we’re able to empower ourselves to manage potential situations - looking at possible scenarios, strengthens our resilience and armed with a tool box of simple solutions, we’re able to deal with anxiety with ease.  

This is where the ‘Virtual Reality Adjustment’ workshops come in - a call-to-action to re-tune to the changes taking place within and outside of us. 

The Virtual Reality Adjustment workshops answer a core need of over half of the UK workforce and are designed with the unique and specific needs of team members and leaders in mind. 

With a unique mix of mindfulness techniques and mindset approaches baked in performance coaching, individuals and teams can re-tune and successfully navigate this in between period. 

The sessions are vibrant, dynamic and interactive. They are a proactive provision of support which enable attendees to ground back into work. An opportunity to develop the emotional intelligence to support themselves as well as their team members, when they encounter challenges as they acclimatise to their new routine. 

For more info about the ‘Virtual Reality Adjustment’ workshops, please contact Nina Stephenson-Camps 

Guest Author

Nina Stephenson-Camps

Mindset Coach,

About

With over 20 years’ experience working in the marketing and comms industry working with Nestle, P&G, Unilever, Diageo and Ford motor company for organisations including Google Cloud, Microsoft, Ogilvy, Ketchum and Golin, Nina understands pressure and the brain power required to successfully manage unexpected curve balls and remain calm while do so. She’s taken those experiences and as Mindset Coach, devised techniques and approaches, which she shares through workshops, private coaching and themed mindfulness audio bundles, to enable her clients to move through their day with focus, grace and ease.

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