Expert advice on dealing with back-to-work anxiety as Michigan starts to reopen

Experts say it’s perfectly normal and reasonable to feel anxious.

Expert advice on dealing with back-to-work anxiety
Expert advice on dealing with back-to-work anxiety

DETROIT – Many Michiganders have been working from home since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer scheduling the return to work for May 24, people will have to make some adjustments.

Workers and employers are talking about what heading into work will look like. The change is causing a lot of anxiety.

Psychologist Dr. Rose Moten said she’s been seeing re-entry anxiety among her patients.

“That’s extremely scary. So many individuals are just not convinced of the transparency that their employers are going to offer them once they’re back into the workplace,” Moten said.

A recent study of employees across the country finds two-thirds are feeling nervous about returning back to into the office, afraid for their health and overall well being.

Those who have worked almost 100% remote are feeling the most anxious about the return to the workspace.

“I mean, are they following protocol to ensure that the workplace is a safe place for them to be and are they following CDC guidelines?” asked Danielle Phillips. “Will fellow coworkers be compliant with the guidelines? That’s a huge concern for a lot of individuals.”

Phillips is vice president of Staff Bright, a local recruiting and staffing

agency that works with employees in Metro Detroit and across the country.

“We see really large operations versus small operations trying to navigate the waters of the unknown. Still trying to dive into 2021 and really, really focusing on ‘Os this going to be a hybrid workforce in the remainder of the year? Are we going to try and operate at full capacity on site?’” Phillips said. “I think a lot of things are up in the air.”

Experts believe it’s best to start slowly, maybe one day a week, and work your way up from there. You’ll be out of your comfort zone, but it’s important to be patient with yourself.

If you’re comfortable, talk to your boss about having some flexibility in your schedule.

Most importantly, expect to feel some separation anxiety. You may even feel homesick, which is normal.

“It’s going to take time,” Moten said. “Adjustment disorder is a psychological diagnosis that we have all experienced at one time or another this past year, but patience is going to be key.”

Speak with your HR manager about what kind of employee assistance programs might be available to you and take advantage of them whenever you can.

You can watch Sandra Ali’s full story in the video above.

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