London, (Asian independent) – As many of the nation return to the workplace, there is rising concern about employee safety and the risk of infection. While the easing of restrictions will be welcomed by those anxious to restart the economy, many workers will face feelings of increased anxiety, stress and depression. Many of the nation will face mental health problems as a result of the pandemic.
For human beings there are three major areas of our life that have a core impact on our psychological stability; our homes, our intimate relationships and our work. All three of those areas have been and continue to be challenged during these times leaving us feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It’s important to focus on what we can achieve during these times of change and what we can’t. Here Psychotherapist Noel McDermott provides tips for workers on how to cope with these emotions and reactions when returning to work.
Psychotherapist Noel McDermottcomments: “We are starting to see employees returning to the workplace and with this we see a reopening of the fears we have all been managing during lockdown. Lockdown can be likened to a well-known psychological survival tool called avoidance. When we avoid what we fear we temporarily get relief from our anxious feelings. The problem is that when we go back to the thing we were avoiding, we feel the anxiety much more keenly. This is what is happening globally now and goes some way to explaining the intense fear reactions we are observing as we come out of lockdown. Those fears often being expressed as anger, an anger we are seeing in many places: on television we see angry hosts on news shows; we see angry people being interviewed about lack of care. The truth is and it’s one we can’t avoid is that we are in uncertain times and things have and will continue to change. The most important skill psychologically we are going to need right now is how to live with fear and uncertainty.”
Advice on how to cope with feelings of increased anxiety:
- Take a deep breath and practice having faith in the future, tell yourself it will all be ok in the end and if it’s not ok at the moment it’s not the end. Telling yourself positive internal stories reduces stress significantly
- Helping others helps ourselves. Make time in your day whether on the way to or from work or in the workplace to do something kind/helpful for someone else
- Take a challenging situation and find deeper meaning from it; moving into the bigger picture to explain our challenges to ourselves as purposeful reduces fear and depression
- Make attachments to beliefs and ideas that express something more transpersonal, whether that is traditional spiritual or religious beliefs or believing in the power of love or nature is not important but having a sense that something bigger is at play is helpful in developing a growth mindset.
- Put the oxygen mask on yourself (not just the face mask) as if you are not meeting your own needs you will not meet any other needs. These basic needs are self-care, regular exercise, sleep/rest, hydration, social and emotional support.
Re-entry anxiety and re-entry trauma
These terms refer to well-known psychological distress about readjustment to ‘normal’ life after having an extra-normal experience. Until recently we used it to refer to relatively small numbers of people involved in humanitarian relief operations for example, a doctor who had volunteered to work in a war zone for a period of time and then comes home and struggles to adjust or a soldier returning from a tour of duty and having to live more in civvy life. We are all potentially experiencing this now and it can’t be overstated just how disorientating this can be. We have had a profound experience that has changed us and normal is just a bit weird right now and is going to take some getting used to.
Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd. Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual. They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home – https://www.noelmcdermott.net/group-therapy/.