Office life has its perks, but also comes with its challenges. After the past [almost] two years of time away, many of us are preparing to return to work in an office setting, and this change may bring about stress.

If you have a return-to-work date coming up, you might be struggling with the thought of leaving the safety of home, and dealing with the anxiety of ‘getting back to normal,’ post-pandemic.

We have complied a list of 5 tips to help ease the transition back into the world of scoring office treats and colleague banter, but also working with the challenges that may come with the territory.

1. Start by mentally preparing for the return

Planning is key in many aspects of life, and this one is no different. Take time to think about your job and your situation. What does your new day-to-day life look like? If there are any changes you want to make, be sure to discuss them with your colleagues and employer to get their support.

Try adjusting back into clothing you would wear to the office before your return. This can help shift your mindset back to the more formal office environment, and get you adapted so, when the time comes, it’s less of a shock.

2. Establish a better sleep schedule early

Without the everyday commute, it’s been easier to hit the snooze button. This habit can be difficult to break, so it is important to start the process early. Throughout the pandemic, staying up late and sleeping in was the norm. The expectation of arriving to work at work at a specific time may be a difficult transition.

Work on getting back to a routine before heading back to the office. Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for most adults. Ensuring you get the required amount of sleep can also reduce the stress that may come with a new work schedule.

3. Opt for a hybrid approach

This may not be an option for everyone, but if it is available to you, we recommend taking full advantage. It can be hard to give up the flexibility of working from home, but there are definitely some advantages of returning to the office that the home environment does not offer, such as:

  • Social connections
  • Fewer distractions
  • Firm boundary between work and home life
  • Sense of normalcy

Just a few days a week in the office can be the perfect balance between the structure of office life, and the ease of working remotely.

4. Practice self-care amid the change

Start by getting into the routine of a regular workday, a week in advance of your return.  It can  help with the transition. Have timely meals, a consistent sleep schedule, and make time for physical activity as well as for relaxing. It’s also very important to be mindful of these signs of stress (link to medical blog?):

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Heaviness in your chest
  • Increased heart rate
  • Body aches

If you identify it, be sure to take immediate steps to reduce it. Try such activities as using a stress ball, taking in some calming essential oils, giving yourself a snack break, or simply getting some fresh air.

5. Ask questions

It is extremely important that you acknowledge your own concerns about returning to a workplace. They are important and when recognized, should be quickly addressed. If you have questions, be sure to bring them to your employer. They are there to help and to ensure your safe and comfortable return-to-work.

Now is the time to assess the options available to you, and make requests that could alleviate any uneasiness you may have. Consider a gradual return to the office, or inquire about what health and safety protocols will be taken.