Managing anxiety & a safe return
We hosted an online event with the Bank Workers Charity on 29th September 2021 to explore the relationship between change, uncertainty and anxiety. We looked at some strategies we can adopt that will help us deal with any fears we have, to negotiate a safe return.
We asked Paul Barrett, Head of Wellbeing at the Bank Workers Charity, to come and talk to our members about:
- The challenges we’ve faced & what we've learnt
- What causes anxiety and how it affects us?
- Remaining uncertainties & returning to offices
- Strategies for managing anxiety about the return
- Sources of support
Paul began the session by reading a quote from a young woman who has a specific concern about her return to work which we thought was quite powerful:
“I'm an extreme introvert. I've had some pretty bad moments during this pandemic, but overall, it's changed my life for the better. I've always found it really difficult in the office where so much happens. I rarely contribute in meetings and I feel extremely self-conscious throughout. The pandemic changed things for me - I can decide how much or how little communication I have with others...I feel much more in control and I've never been happier at work. My manager is really pleased with my performance, but I absolutely dread going back. I know I've got to go back, but it's going to be so difficult now.”
In March 2020 we saw a pandemic-driven transformation in workplace culture. Remote working and connecting with colleagues through digital channels became the norm for many people. Employees and businesses had to act quickly to adapt to this new environment, against the terrifying backdrop of a raging pandemic. Human beings don’t respond easily to uncertainty and change but over time employees did, to the extent that most businesses in the UK saw no dip in productivity. As the pandemic wanes, employers are planning for the post-pandemic return and this mean a new process of adjustment for people.
That's why we teamed up with the Bank Workers Charity for a wellbeing webinar focussed on providing strategies to manage a safe return and to offer sources of support.
You can access the recording below, along with links to download the slides and a link to our feedback survey.
Tips for managing a return
The good news is, there are some things we can do to ease ourselves into a return, safely and securely. See what works for you:
- Familiarise yourself – the business has taken precautions to help keep your workplace safe, so check what's in place.
- Start slowly when you return – don’t try to go from 1 to 100 on your first day back - ease yourself in.
- Talk to your manager – don't sit with your concerns, talk them through and agree steps that will help you.
- Draw on the experience of colleagues – some colleagues may have returned earlier than you, or may have been in the workplace throughout the pandemic, so use their experiences to reassure you.
- Plan ahead – if it will help you, plan and rehearse your return. Many of us have adapted our morning routine and it can take a little time to get used to the new changes.
- Do things that give you some sense of control and make you feel safe – such as wearing a mask or keeping your distance.
- Practice deep breathing – breathing exercises can help control anxieties and to ground us. It can be really effective in disrupting the negative messages your body is sending to your brain.
- Normalise your fears – we shouldn't feel ashamed of feeling fear. They are normal fears after the difficult period we've been through.
- Reframe how you view the risks – you’re exposed, be positive but realistic. Talk them through with a trusted person if you can't do this on your own.
- Social etiquette – we may need to make some adjustments. Don't take offence if others aren't in the same place as ourselves mentally. Listen to what your colleagues feel, and respect the actions they may wish to take that help them feel safe.
- Draw on the coping techniques – you may have had these before the pandemic or developed during the lockdowns such as taking walks during lunch breaks or taking time to be in nature.
- Don’t forget normal wellbeing self-maintenance – sleep, exercise, nutrition and social connection are all important.
Our next webinar with the Bank Workers Charity will be focused on menopause. The event is being held on Tuesday 19th October - Keep an eye out for the invite!
Social wellbeing & loneliness
We teamed up with the Bank Workers Charity for a wellbeing webinar to explore loneliness and social wellbeing, the impact of loneliness at work, and some simple ways to ensure we connect with others during the pandemic and beyond.
The importance of sleep
In this wellbeing webinar, we look at the importance of sleep and what happens if we don’t get enough. With a focus on sleep during the pandemic, we take a look at how to improve sleep quality.
Surviving the long pandemic
We look at the uncertainties created by the long pandemic and identify strategies we can use to minimise the risks to our mental health and wellbeing.
- LBG’s Employee Assistance Programme (Validium): 0800 9700 100
- TSB's Employee Assistance Programme: 0800 0856 348
- Bank Workers Charity: 0800 0234 834 — https://www.bwcharity.org.uk/
- Samaritans: 116 123 — https://www.samaritans.org/
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/