Worried About Returning to the Workplace this Fall?

In his book For One More Day, Mitch Albom writes, “I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes. “The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”

This is wise advice to remember – especially now. As the restrictions ease in North America, children return to school, and employees face the prospect of returning to the workplace this fall, it’s crucial to care as much for yourself when moving out of restrictions as you did when moving into them.

Part of caring about yourself is to validate your feelings. Returning to the workplace, for some, is an exciting prospect. For others, it’s extremely worrisome. With this in mind, you can respect your feelings and the feelings of others. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It’s okay for you to feel the way you do!

How are Canadians feeling about transitioning out of working from home and back into the workplace? It seems worry has Canadian workers stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, returning to the workplace has nearly half of employees worried about contracting the virus. Despite the increase of vaccinations, a Canada Life survey suggests 46% of Canadians working from home are worried about contracting coronavirus if and when they return to the workplace. In a separate survey by KPMG of over 2,000 Canadian workers, 72 per cent say they are reluctant to take public transportation due to fears of contracting variants of the coronavirus.

On the other hand, nearly half of those surveyed worry if they continue to work from home, they’ll be “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to opportunities for advancement. In the KPMG survey, 49 per cent of Canadian employees worry about being overlooked for promotions if they continue to work from home.

Are you, or someone you know, worried about transitioning back into the workplace? To restore your inner peace, use this simple, four-step, CALM process:

C = Challenge Your Assumptions

Negative assumptions create unnecessary worry. Challenge your assumptions by asking:

  • Is what I’m thinking true? Is it factual?

Your best line of defence against worry is to make sure you’re dealing with the facts. Gather the facts – from trusted and reliable sources – before scaring yourself with negative thinking.

A = Act to Control the Controllable

Sometimes worry is prompting you to take action. What actions can you take during tough times like returning to the workplace during a pandemic?

  • Speak up. Talk with your employer about your concerns. Share your ideas for creating a corporate culture that promotes mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Ask about the safety measures being put in place prior to your return.
  • Continue to practice safety protocols. Let’s face it, good hand hygiene is always a good idea.
  • Learn to manage stress. There are many resources available to help you manage stress and build resilience. Consider taking an online course on how to let go of worry or reading about stress reduction strategies. Download a complimentary copy of CALM the eBook. Take action to manage stress and protect your mental health.

Are you worried about something over which you have no control? Move to the third step in the CALM process.

L = Let Go of the Uncontrollable

According to a recent report by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 79% of Canadians say they are coping “at least fairly well” with the stress of the pandemic using these approaches:

  • Walking or exercising outside (51%)
  • Connecting with family and friends virtually (43%)
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (40%)
  • Keeping up to date with relevant information (38%)
  • Doing a hobby (37%)

To help your body cope with the stress of change, try one or more of the strategies above. Or, come up with your own list of strategies and find a way to make them an enjoyable part of your daily life.

M = Master Your Mind

This step calls you to guard against negative thinking. To transform worry into inner peace, transform your thought life.

Instead of:  It’s going to be too hard.

Try:  It might be hard, but hard doesn’t mean impossible.

Instead of:  I can’t handle more changes. 

Try:  I’ve handled everything that has come my way and I can handle what comes next too.

This pandemic has impacted all of us in some way. Remember to care as much about yourself now as you did at the onset of the pandemic. Use the CALM process to help ease your stress and worry. It will help you to regulate your emotions and protect your mental health both today and throughout all the ups and downs of life.

© Denise Marek 2021

Denise Marek is an award-winning speaker, internationally acclaimed worry management expert and creator of the CALM™ methodology for worry-free living. She’s the author of several books including CALM: The Proven Four-Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry. If you’re curious about learning more strategies to reduce stress and worry, sign up for Denise’s free workshop here. For more information about booking Denise to speak, visit her website: www.denisemarek.com.