Manage Your Return-to-Office Stress with These 5 Tips

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    By Dr. Jacob Asher, Chief Medical Officer, UnitedHealthcare of California

    As pandemic restrictions ease, many workers head back into the office after working remotely. That might have them feeling a little stressed.

    It’s normal to have some worries about a change in routine — and you may not be the only one at your company who’s feeling that way. In a survey by the American Psychological Association, roughly half of adults reported being uneasy about returning to in-person interactions.

    A significant life change like switching from remote to in-person work may be one of your stress triggers. Feeling overwhelmed, headaches, or trouble sleeping may all be symptoms of stress that can affect your body medically and physically. The important thing is to recognize the anxiety and come up with healthy ways to help manage it.

    Here are five tips that may help with reducing stress in your transition back to the workplace:

    1. Manage your time – When the pandemic began, your day-to-day schedule may have shifted. Before things go back, think about making a list of all you’ll need to do to be ready for each day and how you might want to start your day differently when you’re going to the office versus working from home. A detailed schedule may help you feel less overwhelmed.
    2. Focus on lifestyle choices – Is how you lived during the pandemic playing a role in the stress you’re feeling? Things like prioritizing sleep, eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol may help manage your anxiety around a return to the workplace.   
    3. Get moving – Exercise and the feel-good endorphins it creates can be essential for stress reduction and overall health. Consider adding regular workouts to your schedule. Also, look for easy ways to add movement to your day, such as standing for phone calls or using the stairs instead of the elevators. 
    4. Try meditation – Focused meditation and deep breathing may help ease your bouts with stress and have lasting health benefits. Think about taking time in the morning or scheduling breaks during the day to practice meditation and other mindfulness techniques.
    5. If you’re stressed - about going back to the office due to the risk of contracting COVID-19, keep in mind there are things you can do to help protect yourself and others. Consider talking with your manager about your concerns and possible solutions, including staggering your work hours to avoid high-traffic entry and exit points or increasing space between your workspace and others.