As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, a return to “normal” feels in reach – with many eager to return to the office, social mixing and other activities outlawed during lockdown. For some, this return to the old ways has been met with joy and anticipation… but for others, the readjustment is daunting and uncomfortable.
It is a truth universally accepted that the pandemic has shaken up the way we go about our lives, forcing many to alter habits and routines practised for years.
During this time, many have had the unique opportunity to revaluate their current way of life and gain a new perspective on the world of remote working, discovering new hobbies and using technology to communicate with friends and loved ones. These changes in behaviour and attitudes have become ingrained – so for many, the thought of returning to packed public transport systems, a busy office or a rowdy bar understandably can cause feelings of anxiety.
This “new normal” of working from home, avoiding social contact and only travelling when essential has become a part of our day-to-day way of life, and the boundaries set by these measures have created a new comfort zone for many. As with any comfort zone, this can take time to break out of, especially with the threat of catching emerging Covid variants remaining a real risk.
These feelings of anxiety are completely normal and even expected. A study from the London South Bank University found that one in five of the 286 UK-based survey participants scored highly on the Covid-19 anxiety syndrome scale, a model used by their researchers in February 2021.
Other key findings of the study show that:
54% strongly endorsed avoiding public transport because of a fear of contracting the virus.
49% strongly endorsed avoiding touching things in public spaces because of a fear of the virus.
38% strongly endorsed avoiding going out to public places because of a fear of the virus.
14% strongly endorsed paying close attention to others displaying possible symptoms of the virus.
9% strongly endorsed reading about the news relating to the virus at the cost of work engagement.
Back to basics: here are a few tips to help those who are anxious about returning to social mixing – whether that be returning to work, meeting with friends and family or other leisure activities.
Make incremental changes – take things at your own pace, slowly build up to more daunting activities by completing simpler tasks first – slow progress is still progress.
Share your worries with your family, employer or trusted friends – by letting others know ahead of time, they can support you to plan activities and alternatives you are more comfortable with.
Plan ahead – ensure you are adequately prepared for any tasks or situations that can trigger your anxiety. For example, if returning to driving is something you are worried about, plan your routes, allow plenty of time to give you the opportunity to break the journey and start off on short distances on less busy routes.
For a confidential discussion about how our AssessNET health and safety software and award-winning Covid health surveillance platform, Safe2Day can help you to support your employees in their transition back to the workplace, call us on 01908 915272 – we’re here to help.