Monday, August 8, 2022

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Doctors Offer Advice on Combating Dread of Returning to Workplace

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022   

As COVID-19 cases drop, the lights are coming back on at offices across the country, but the thought of returning to work in person could be stressful for some.

Dr. Mary Moffit, associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, said feeling anxious about change is a natural response. Moffit acknowledged it could inspire thoughts of dread, but there are other ways to think about this transition.

"There's, generally speaking, ways in which when we're anxious we're not really factoring in what way might this go well," Moffit pointed out. "Might it feel good to actually be interacting with our colleagues again? Might it feel good to actually see people without a mask?"

Moffit suggested if it is possible, people should consider hybrid work situations where they are only in the office a few days a week. She added if the anxiety of returning to the office is debilitating, they should reach out to a health care professional.

Dr. Nicole Brady, chief medical officer for United HealthCare employer and individual for Wisconsin and Michigan, said people should give themselves breaks and take a walk, or listen to soothing music to help manage their anxiety. And she noted people should be prepared before they return to the office.

"Packing a lunch ahead of time, knowing how we're going to get kids to and from activities," Brady outlined. "Stepping back and doing some advance planning can really alleviate some of that return-to-the-office stress."

Brady added people can also try meditating and deep-breathing exercises and there are phone applications to help guide them.

Moffit emphasized there are other ways to help with the transition, including asking for what you need.

"Increase our self-care activities and protect our sleep," Moffit advised. "Increase our exercise time, even if it's only 20 minutes. Add it on. Practice more self-compassion than self-criticism, and increase our reaching out for support from our family and our friends."

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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