Tips on managing stress when returning to the office

Navigating our way back into some form of normality is daunting. We weren’t given instruction on how to cope with and recover from a global pandemic…

Feelings of anxiety and stress will be feeling on the increase, whilst we gear up to normal life returning. Whilst many of us will have been wishing for that day to come, the reality of things “going back to how they were” can feel quite overwhelming.

It’s important to check in with your mental health and stress levels during this period. 
As we return to work, many of us may be coping with stressors we’ve not had to experience for a while. Such as busy trains, packed out tubes and awkward conversations in the communal kitchen. 

We cannot remove stress and anxiety from our lives, but we can control of we react and manage our stressors. 

Here are some things you can do to help manage your stress levels:

Keep it manageable: Pick three things you want to accomplish per day

We’ve been working in such a different way for a year now. Returning to our “normality” is going to take some getting used to. So reduce the risk of overwhelm and critical pressure on yourself by creating a specific and more manageable priority list for each day.
Pick just 3 things you’d like to accomplish. 
By focusing your intentions and creating a specific plan, you’re more likely to complete your list and get the positive reinforcement you’re looking for.
You will also free up some brain power for focusing on the task at hand, rather than worrying about a long list of all the things you think you need to do.

Get some head space: Practice calming techniques

These can be short, simple and easy to add into your day.
Perhaps incorporate some short meditations whilst you’re commuting. 
Or listen to a calming music soundtrack on your walk to the office.
Rather than read emails on the train, write down a list of all the things you’re grateful for / excited about in the notes section of your phone.
Commuting is a part of the day that can either be a source of stress or an opportunity to find calm. Make it a time for getting some head space and finding your calm!

Communicate with compassion: To others and yourself

Communication with others with more compassion and communicating with yourself with more self-compassion are really powerful ways to support your colleagues and keep in check with yourself. It will increase your mental wellbeing and reduce feelings of depression. 
When you feel more connected, you feel more positive and motivated. Those feelings spread like wildfire through an office so it’s not only better for you, but better for your team too!

Ask “are you OK?” twice: The ask twice rule

The next time you ask how someone is, once they’ve answered, ask them again.
You will be interested to see how the “ask twice rule” opens up deeper conversations and honest exchanges. 
Deep and meaningful conversations improve connections, which leads to idea exchange, and helps build rapport and trust. Asking questions is also a virtuous cycle: By asking questions and opening up deeper more honest conversations, we improve our emotional intelligence. 
The more we listen, the more we learn about not only others, but ourselves too.  

Put your phone to bed early

Put your phone to bed early: Don’t reach for it first thing

By “putting your phone to bed” and leaving it outside of your bedroom, gives you proper wind down time. 
It removes the risk of distraction, late nights and pointless scrolling. Further to this, it will also take away the constant pings, alerts, notifications and news updates that currently flood our phone. These aren’t what you need right before bed and most likely contribute to poorer sleep and higher levels of stress. Disconnecting will help you sleep better, recharge and reduce stressors. 

Also, be conscious not to pick your phone up first thing. Do something more mindful.
The result of what you find on your phone will dictate how you enter your day… if you’re woken to a long, scary, angry looking email, it will affect your stress levels for the day.

Make a list of all your skills: What are you confident in

We aren’t usually very good at thinking about all the things we are good at. 
All the skills we’ve learnt and what we have achieved during our careers.

But having gone through a global pandemic, suffered losses, huge changes, restrictions, cancellations and our normal lives stripped away from us, I think we all deserve a little ego boost and self “big up”.

Boost your own confidence – before you go back to the office, write down a list, reminding yourself of what you’re good at and why you are brilliant at your job.

Let your manager know how you feel: Tell them what you need to feel supported

Working for a company that makes you feel supported, respected, heard and understood 
is a sure way to enjoying your role and career so much more. 
This enjoyment will spill out into your attitude, effort, engagement and moral. It will also reduce your stress levels. 
In order for your managers / team leaders / directors to make you feel supported, they need to know how. 
Express and discuss your needs – this will provide them with the knowledge they need to ensure you’re able to work at your best.
This could be asking for a longer lunchbreak once a week so that you can pop out to an exercise class, flexibility in your start time so that you can avoid busier trains or simply asking if your 1:2:1 meetings can become more regular.

A positive we can take from this pandemic is the way its highlighted the importance of our mental health, well-being and management of stressors. With this in mind, we have the opportunity to really take some time to look after ourselves whilst we return o the office – making informed decisions to increase our happiness in the workplace. 

Wishing you less stress and well looked after mental health.

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