Returning to work? Tiny tips to keep you on track.

As the furlough scheme winds down, many employers are now asking their employees to return to work. Whether this is now working from home, which in itself can present complications or returning to the workplace. After all this time, either can cause you to feel stressed out.  

Whether you’ve loved being away from the workplace or not, you’ve had to create new routines and now will have to change again. You could be negotiating with your workplace or you may have been informed that you need to return, all of these changes require you to adapt and be flexible. Being flexible is difficult but not impossible when you are in a climate of fear. You might be dreading the thought of having to be up and out at a particular time every day again, the school-run, meetings, dealing with new Covid secure procedures or if your workplace will be safe? You might feel you have lost your confidence which in itself is causing you sleepless nights. These are completely natural concerns and will undoubtably cause some anxiety.  

 The thought of getting back to work can be challenging, maybe you are trying not to think too deeply about it. You might have a physical response to this, it is important to address it to enable you to get things back in control.  

There are many different ways in which these feelings can present themselves: having trouble sleeping; dreading certain situations; feeling sick; stomach ache; increased heart-rate; not being to focus etc. For example, if you’re walking down the road and you realise, you’re not taking notice of any of your surroundings or if you’ve driven home but with no memory of having got there, this may be a sign of stress. 

There are ways in which you can help yourself, to regain some calmness before it manifests into something deeper. 

  • Breathe. We are keen believers at Live Life that breathing is something that we all should take more time to practice! This may seem ironic as breathing is what we do all the time, however research tells us there’s a better way to breathe. If you are stressed or anxious your breathing becomes shallower, this sends an alarm signal to the brain which in turn releases ‘fight or flight’ hormones causing your heart rate to increase and making you feel anxious. It is a cycle you can break by taking 5 minutes to concentrate on your breathing, click here for more information https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2752713634951953  If you have an iPhone you can set it to notify you 2 or 3 times a day to remind you to breathe, some of our clients with iPhones swear by this! 
  • Easy meditation. Make some quiet time for yourself. 5 minutes in the morning or evening or both, to practise some meditation or try a body scan relaxation; lie on your back or sit on a comfortable chair and starting at the top of your head tense the muscles of your body each in turn then relax them. An easy technique which really works, click the link for more information;  https://www.verywellmind.com/body-scan-meditation-why-and-how-3144782 You also can download the free Headspace app for easy meditation exercises. 
  • Exercise. An increase in exercise is proven to help reduce anxiety and stress. It makes a physiological change in the body which promotes the release of feel good hormones. There are many home workouts available for free on You Tube to suit every individual circumstance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5PkuMuMqBs. If you don’t exercise very much now, start with adding a little bit of walking into your day. Maybe walk to the next tube station or use the stairs instead of the lift. If your car journey takes 5 minutes chances are it’s only a mile away which means that it would take you 20 minutes to walk. Consider walking rather than driving, if you can do this once or twice a week you will start to feel the benefit.  
  • Get outside. Walk in an open space or wooded area if possible once a week, the Japanese practise of ‘forest bathing’ can help to lower stress and promote a feeling of calmness. Being amongst trees and green spaces is good for us fundamentally. Studies have shown that people relax best amongst the colours green and blue. This is an example of how you can get into mindfulness. Click here for more information https://time.com/5259602/japanese-forest-bathing/  
  • Communication. Really important to tell people who you are living with, how you are feeling. If you don’t communicate, they won’t know how you are feeling. Also, if you share some of your feelings with your colleagues you may be pleasantly surprised that you are not alone. Then you can swap ideas of how to manage things in this transition into full time work or working differently again.

If you are feeling as if you are ‘stuck’ or unable to make decisions, Live Life Not Strife provide personal and business coaching which help you overcome anxiety and stress. Our resident psychologist Adriana Summers and her team have assisted tens of thousands of clients. 

We have been working remotely since March with private consultations via Skype or Zoom, to find out how we can help you, email us [email protected] or call us for a confidential chat on 01625 786026. You can also call Adriana directly on +447980 667103.  

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Tiny tips for living a fuller, happier life! 

Uncertainties about keeping safe

Now that lockdown restrictions are being lifted, we find ourselves with a brand-new set of questions and worries about social distancing. Of course, we have the government guidelines set out for us to work to but it almost seems that the onus is on the individual now to decide how they conduct themselves; whether you wear a mask when you’re out and about, visit your relatives in their homes, standing 2 metres apart from your friend in the park? It is almost bringing a whole new etiquette into our daily lives which in itself can be stressful. 

Wearing masks 

The governments’ announcement yesterday evening that it will be compulsory to wear a mask in shops in England from next Friday may come as a relief, as the uncertainty recently has led to confusion and anxiety for some. Wearing masks can be a very individual decision, you may wear a mask yourself every time you go out because you believe it will limit the spread of the virus, plus you may feel more protected in wearing one. 

You may have asthma in which case the Asthma UK website states: 

“If you’ve got asthma, you may or may not be able to wear a face mask or covering. It’s a good idea to try one out at home, or on a short walk around the block first. If it feels fine, then you can wear it, and it won’t harm you. 

But if it makes it feel harder to breathe, the UK Government has advised that you don’t have to wear one. You could try a few different types to see if there is one that suits you, but if you feel breathless or suffocated while wearing a face covering, then don’t wear one.” 

NB Always remember to take your inhalers with you. 

Others might have different personal issues with wearing masks. It takes a bit of getting used to and if you harbour some level of claustrophobia perhaps or have a child with autism it may well be completely impossible for you or your child to put a mask on. You might have autism yourself, in which case the same issues apply, Autism Hampshire.org says: 

These new guidelines raise new challenges for some autistic people. Autistic people sometimes have difficulty in understanding facial expressions in ‘normal’ (pre-Covid-19) times. The new guidelines for people to wear masks will make it even more difficult for some autistic people to understand facial expressions as body language in communication will be restricted to what the eyes can tell us.”  

Practically speaking 

You might find it helpful to try a few different types before you find one that is comfortable or easy for you to breathe in. You may feel self-conscious or vulnerable which puts you off wearing a mask, if this is case just give it a go! In time we may see pictures similar to those in China where wearing masks is part of our daily routines.  

Why is it hard to wear a mask? 

You might not understand your hesitation about wearing a mask outside of your home. As humans we are deeply programmed to assess risk by watching what’s happening around us. So, before we pass somebody, we will automatically have looked at their face and unconsciously made an assessment as to whether we feel safe. If not, we tend to put greater distance between us and them in an everyday setting, it could be crossing the road.  

Wearing masks stops us from gaining the information we need to feel safe. It also stops us from giving feedback to other people approaching us. Maybe we have to consider new ways of giving this information, such as a nod of our head as we approach somebody rather than smiling. This deep unconscious recognition of another person, is what helps to ease the anxiety of passing someone we don’t know. Alternative ways of acknowledging someone e.g. by a nod in passing or saying hello can reassure that we and/or they, do not present a threat. 

Visiting friends and family 

Then there is the question of visiting friends and families’ homes. The guidelines now state we can go into another household and have another household visit us, while maintaining social distancing, but again it all comes down to personal choice. It may feel totally strange to go into your friend’s house for a coffee and chat after all this time we have been staying away. We know that the risk at the moment is lower than it was, but it is still there. You may feel too worried to take this step right now, there’s always that ‘What if?’ in the back of your mind, so just do what you feel comfortable with. 

Alternatively, you might be keen to invite your friend in for that long-awaited cuppa, but don’t be surprised if they don’t take you up on it just yet. It might take them a little longer to get used to the idea. Another friend might just bite your hand off! Maybe you have actually “got out of the habit” of visiting friends and are finding it difficult to get back to doing it – (not just because of the social distancing or fear). 

People who are natural introverts may have even found lockdown an enjoyable experience, to have the social pressures of meeting friends removed may have been almost a relief and now the thought of getting back to normal could be anxiety inducing! Sometimes it’s hard to make the first move, especially if you have let contact lapse over the last 2 -3 months and haven’t been mixing with people much?  

Take it slowly, as a first step, send a text and ask how your friend is, do they fancy a chat at some point? Don’t worry if they don’t get back to you straight away, they themselves might be in a similar situation. Once you’re feeling a little more confident, think of someone who makes you smile. Make an arrangement to meet them, for example, out of doors for a quick catch up, you will be glad you made the effort as chatting to a friend can be beneficial.  

Finally, it’s natural for people to react by having an opinion about others who aren’t wearing a mask or keeping their distance, but we have to keep an open mind. We should perhaps concentrate on what responsibilities we are taking ourselves rather than scrutinize other people’s behaviour. You may feel less stressed out once you take on this mind set!  

If you are unsure about what is the right thing to do regarding social distancing, click the link here for the government guidelines https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Have a look at some of the information we have on our Facebook page about anxiety but if you need more individual help please contact us to book an online session with our experienced psychologist. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103 or email [email protected] Please visit our Facebook Page: 
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Tiny tips towards living a fuller, happier life!