If you’re just now making your way back to the office after years of working from home due to shifts caused by the pandemic, and you’re feeling anxious about the changes and emotional load this can bring along, you’re not alone.
During President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, 2021, he urged Americans to return to the office. Since then, companies across the country have returned to pre-pandemic dynamics with compulsory office attendance five days per week, or hybrid-style, which is 3 days at work and two working from home.
Last year, just three days after the president’s speech, the company I worked for sent an email that our mandatory time in the office would be increasing from 1-2 days to three. An initial sting of grief ran through me and then my immediate next thought was, “when is the fourth going to come?” From there, I began obsessing over the fact that I’m slowly losing my flexible schedule and anxious feelings started showing up.
After a few days of feeling this way, I decided to make a choice. I could resist and be consumed by my anxious feelings, or I could find joy in this.
I didn’t want to go back to the mundane or bury my feelings; I wanted to have a balanced plan so the transition would be easier for me and my family. Which meant for me, mindful acceptance. I asked myself these questions:
- What exactly am I grieving?
- What is causing my resistance?
- What can I do to feel better about going into the office?
- In what way can this transition improve my life?
- How can my mood improve?
- How would my day flow if I were to embrace this new schedule?
- What can I do to feel better about this new schedule?
If there’s anything the past two years have taught us as a collective, it’s that we can be highly adaptable when we need to be. Here are 6 mindfulness tips to help ease you back into the office:
Express gratitude: We aren’t always going to be in the mood to jump out of bed and go to work but we have the power to set the tone of our day. Smile when you wake up. Say three things you are grateful for at that moment. Then give your body a nice stretch and get out of bed.
Take time to appreciate YOU: Make it a habit to acknowledge yourself for your hard work and dedication to your career. Take out a pen and paper and list out the positive aspects of your job and all that you’ve accomplished.
Get excited about your wardrobe: Remember the first day of school when you would get so excited to wear your freshest new outfit? Take a hard look at your closet and purge! Get rid of what you no longer need or like and make room for some great new pieces. Getting excited about what you’re wearing will help you find small joy in returning to the office.
Prepare your new routine: Take out a pen and paper and write down your new routine. Envision your morning and nighttime routines. Write down the hours of the day from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Plan it out Sunday through Saturday. Block off the time you will be in the office and time you need for commuting. Figure out the distance between the school drop-offs from your home and to your office. Map out the time and be realistic about how much time to need to leave yourself in the morning. Then give yourself an extra 15 minutes in case of traffic. Arrange a family meeting to review the schedule and assign each family member tasks appropriate to their ages. This could be another transition but with consistency, your family can develop new healthy habits.
Make your commute your sacred time: One of the things I missed the most when working remotely was my commute because it was time just for me. Make the most out of your commute. Pick out your favorite music, podcasts or audiobooks and get enlightened or jam out to your music after you drop the kids off at school. Do you take public transportation? Rest from the morning, sip your coffee, close your eyes, daydream, take a cat nap, listen to a meditation, journal and knit. The options are endless.
Do something thoughtful for your co-workers: Bring in donuts or bagels. It could bring a smile to someone who is carrying hard feelings about being back in the office.
No matter what your personal work situation is, adjust the tips to fit your needs. Give yourself a fresh start, be creative, and keep it interesting. Pick your head up and put a smile on your face. Feel good about your day and the work you do. Take a deep breath and process the changes you experienced these last few years. You got this!
What's Your Reaction?
Stacey Challener is certified in Spiritual Life, Health & Wellness and Relationship Coaching. She has 18 years tenure as a professional in the International Supply Chain industry. Stacey’s passion is helping professional women find their unique balance and happiness from a place of within through daily mindfulness practices. email@example.com