The call to return to work has come, along with new guidelines, and what may be a lot of worry. Working during a pandemic could leave you feeling a range of emotions from relief to stress. We want to talk about what you can do to stay safe and manage your stress in the event that your office decides to reopen and return to work.
The National safety Council, has recommended some basic guidelines for returning to work, and we think they could go a long way in making returning employees feel a lot calmer:
- The NSC recommends being respectful of other people's boundaries, and we recommend also being respectful to their right to feel worried. While you may not be feeling that overwhelmed, Sussie is, and she’s in the corner wiping down the walls of her cubicle every hour. It’s important to remember other people are reacting to this very differently and everyone has their own coping mechanisms. We think the best course of action is showing patience and understanding toward your coworkers and yourself. The CDC recommends cleaning “high-traffic” surfaces every hour. This includes countertops, doorknobs, toilets, tables, light switches, phones, faucets, sinks, keyboards, and more.
I Had to Put a String Across My Cubicle to Keep People Out.” - The Cut
- If you are feeling a little bit like Sussie right now, this next piece of advice could help: establish your personal boundaries with your coworkers. You can give yourself complete and total permission to say, “can I please have a little more space, it really helps relieve the stress I’m feeling about the pandemic. Thank you. I really appreciate your understanding.” Be vocal and let your coworkers know you would like for everyone who speaks to you, to please do so with their masks on. And don’t let the fear of judgement stop you from taking a step back from someone who's gotten too close. Someone with Covid-19 can spread the virus through respiratory droplets produced while talking, says the CDC. Keep distance. Keep Calm. Keep your mask on (properly).
- Initiate a system of peer support. A group chat. A regular, socially distant walk on your lunch break. Making sure to have a system of support can help relieve stress about working during a pandemic; where no one knows what’s going on, and trust me everyone is feeling out-of-sorts. Chances are a lot of people want to talk about it, not just you. YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Try asking a coworker this: "Hi, can we create a group chat where we can just emotion dump every little thing that bothers us through the workday?"
- Being active on your breaks is also a good segue into our next bit of advice: maintain a regular exercise schedule. Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries, says the Mayo Clinic. If you’ve been working or are just back to work, maintaining an exercise regime might just be the perfect way to wrap up what could’ve been a stressful day. Like the coworker two seats away, who wouldn’t stop sneezing and you don’t want to be rude and ask if it’s corona or allergies. Try taking a run. Soak in the tub afterwards if you’d like, and decompress. Also make sure to get a good night's sleep. The American Psychological Association says “Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night.”
Staying active and getting sleep are going to be the best tools for any pandemic worker to combat the daily stressors. And while they seem simple, and you already know the benefits, enforcing healthy lifestyle habits will go a lot further than any short-term relief during a pandemic. Remember it’s all about boundaries, respect, and diligence and we can get through anything.
BCRX Content Writer, Klarrisa Arafa