As the restrictions of the lockdown are beginning to change in the UK, many people feel anxious about work. Why is this? Isn’t working in your old job a positive thing again? Work brings economic, personal and social gains.
But the way you are feeling right now might not be so positive.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a fear or apprehension of something. It makes you feel panicky. You worry a lot, and you don’t feel your usual self. Anxious feelings are expected at certain times in your life, especially if you have lots of demands on you. An example might be planning a wedding as you want everything to go smoothly. https://www.awakenthechange.com/hypnotherapy/help-with-anxiety/help-for-wedding-day-anxiety/
But these anxious feelings should be short-lived, maybe a few days or weeks. It’s when these normal feelings start to overwhelm you and get out of control that there might be a problem.
Are you feeling scared of work? Perhaps you are worrying, and thinking about lots of aspects related to work? Returning to work after many weeks at home is positive for lots of people as it can mean more money and freedom to get out of the house. But it isn’t like that for everyone.
There are many reasons why people feel anxious about returning to work, and the reasons are different for different people. Let me give you five reasons why you might be feeling anxious about returning to work because more knowledge will help you understand and change the anxiety.
Fear is a primitive survival instinct. We all get fearful about different things but is that fear rational? Well, some of your concern about work might be valid, but lots of your worries won’t be helpful or irrational.
People notice fear because they can have bodily changes. The most common things people notice about themselves are shaking, freezing in certain situations, feeling panicky, heart rate and breathing increasing, or feeling sick. Of course, having a health check form your doctor is a good idea if the physical symptoms persist.
Fear is a consequence of the lockdown after COVID 19 because many people have been traumatised.
Perhaps they have lost loved ones so are experiencing grief. Bereavement turns someones life upside down, and it takes time to adjust. They might feel angry, confused, guilty and intensely sad. In some cases, it might be better if bereaved people have some time off work, especially if the loss was recent.
If you haven’t lost anyone, you might be fearful of those people at work who have lost someone. You might be wondering what to say to them, how to react to them or what you can do to help them. Supporting them and offering them professional help will help you both. https://www.awakenthechange.com/counselling/grief-and-bereavement-counselling/
But loss isn’t only about losing family and friends. Some people might have lost a lot of money, their home or independence.
Redundancy will happen in some companies. This fear results in some people becoming anxious because they fear losing their job. Consider that work will be less in some organisations. But there will always be companies that thrive in difficult times. There will also be lots of companies that are in the middle and struggle initially.
All losses are stressful whether an actual loss or a perceived loss. Loss makes you fearful for the future.
Since the pandemic, you might be fearful of catching the virus now. At home, you felt safe but going to work brings new challenges. You feel scared of touching surfaces, getting too close to other people and transmitting the virus to your family and friends.
You might worry about travelling on public transport and going to busy places as you know that the risks will be higher there. These thoughts are rational fears, but you need to assess how significant the risk is.
You can deal with this better when you have the facts. Washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and social distancing can reduce the risks. Work practices will probably have changed, so understanding the new ways of working will help you.
Negative thoughts might drive the fear of returning to work. But you can learn to feel better when you think more positively. So if you notice yourself thinking that returning to work will be difficult, learn to change that negative thought into something more positive. For example, ‘Work might be difficult at first, but I have the knowledge and skills to make it easier.’
Consequently, you need to manage your fear by getting sufficient information. This gathering of information might mean planning your route to work, buying hand sanitiser, wearing a mask and adhering to the operational policies and procedures at work. Managing difficulties are also often better dealt with by sharing any concerns. This help could be with a trusted friend or therapist.
2. Low confidence and low self-esteem
Returning to work might be difficult because you feel de-motivated. That’s not surprising after spending so many weeks in lockdown. One part of you wants to go to work to earn money, and to get out of the house or meet your friends. But the other part of you is not sure if you are good enough to cope with the changes.
Maybe you are questioning your abilities to do the job now. You are asking yourself if you are good enough.
If you know that you need to continue training for the job, online learning might be more difficult. You might now be wondering if you have got enough motivation or confidence to continue?
Maybe you are not sure if you really like the job now and this sets up the anxiety again.
For some people, they are scared and lacking confidence because they know that they will need to give presentations or speak in public. https://www.awakenthechange.com/hypnotherapy/help-with-fears-and-phobias/help-with-fear-of-public-speaking/ Other people will be lacking in confidence with the new technology that is now required to do the job. If socialising has caused you anxiety in the past, this may begin to make you feel uncomfortable again.https://www.awakenthechange.com/hypnotherapy/help-with-stress-relaxation/help-for-low-confidence-and-self-esteem/
Perhaps you are worrying and feeling less confident that you will keep your job. Worry, lack of confidence and low self-esteem means that you feel out of control. Furthermore, your quiet confidence makes you wonder if you will ever get back to your old lifestyle.
3. Past experiences
Negative past experiences reinforce all these thoughts and experiences of anxiety about going back to work. Maybe you have been unemployed before and know how hard it was. Perhaps you were made redundant previously and now are dreading going through the same event. Maybe you have struggled at interviews in the past.
Even if you keep your job now, you may have had awkward encounters with the boss or other members of staff. You might also be dreading working with some people again if they hurt you in the past. Before if you used avoidance as a tactic, it might not be so easy now. Returning to work can cause anxiety if it wasn’t a happy place before.
4. Personality and known health problems
Returning to work might be more anxiety-provoking for people who have personalities where they like to be a perfectionist. If your character is like this, you are a great employee for dealing with details. But after the pandemic, your anxiety levels could go up as you will be forced to do things differently, and this might not feel like the best way to you.
It can be more anxiety-provoking for people with mental health problems to go back to work. People with Generalised Anxiety DIsorder could feel overwhelmed as lots of changes at work will increase anxiety. People with other disorders may also need more support, as lots of changes are sometimes challenging to manage.
People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and toilet phobias may feel more anxious as many public conveniences are closed on their journey to work, and maybe changes at work that need adjustment.
5. Lifestyle changes
Changes to lifestyle can make us feel anxious. First, there was the lockdown, and that would have caused increased levels of anxiety.
So people made adjustments to their daily lives. Some of the changes were not good. For example, some people ate more than they needed and often it was junk foods. Other people began to drink too much alcohol, smoke too much or used illegal drugs to help them cope. Drinking large amounts of coffee would not help either as too much caffeine can harm the body.
Some people now have disturbed sleep patterns. Maybe sitting up and watching a film till the early hours of the morning has resulted in sleeping problems. What happens now? Are you going to be able to get up on time for work since the lockdown?
Going back to work is another change. Change can trigger anxiety again.
In summary, how you think and feel will affect you going back to work. But this process doesn’t need to be negative. Identifying the real risks and understanding your health and wellbeing is essential. By reading these five reasons for anxiety when returning to work, you could have improved the situation already!
Tips to help work anxiety
- Identify how you are feeling.
- Write down your thoughts about returning to work in a journal.
- Get any health issues checked out with your doctor, especially if you take any medication.
- Talk to friends, family, your employer or a counsellor if you are worrying a lot.
- Try reframing any negative thoughts and make them more positive.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Change your lifestyle so you can get back into the routine of going to work.
But if you need help more help with stress and anxiety issues Linda from Awaken the Change provides hypnotherapy and counselling online to meet your needs. Contact Linda today.