There will probably be countless negative thoughts running around in your head. Will I remember how to do my job? Will my boss be angry with me? Will my colleagues treat me differently? How will I manage to get up on time every morning?
Forward planningReturning to work doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, it can also be an exciting time. A bit of forward planning can help to avoid niggling worries and ease anxiety.
Before you return to work, ease yourself into your new routine by getting up at the required time and going to bed earlier so that your body starts to adjust to any new sleep patterns.
Do a practice run for a usual working day, from getting up in the morning and taking the kids to school (if necessary) to taking the commute to work. By doing a practice run, you can plan your time accordingly and minimise stressful situations.
Prepare meals and do household chores at the weekend (or on the days you’re not at work) so that you have less to worry about once you get home.
Catch up before you startTo lighten the load, it’s a good idea to spend a day at work before your start date to discuss your role and responsibilities. If someone has covered for you during your absence, they could run through both old and new procedures to refresh your memory and introduce you to any new systems. This could also be the perfect opportunity to catch up with work colleagues before you dive straight into work mode. Perhaps you could spend some time reading through emails and organising your workload. By easing yourself in gradually, you’ll hopefully find returning to work a little less intimidating and you might even start looking forward to it.
Stay healthyReturning to work after a long break can be extremely tiring when you’re out of the swing of things. By eating a healthy diet and enjoying some exercise, you’ll not only find you have more energy and feel physically fitter, your mental wellbeing will benefit too.
Take a lunch breakWhen we’re snowed under with work and find ourselves constantly playing catch up, it’s tempting to work through our lunch breaks to get ahead. Although this might work as a quick fix, in the long run it can do more harm than good. It’s so important to take time out to clear our minds and escape from physical, emotional and mental stress. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, try to get outside in the fresh air, eat your lunch away from your desk and replenish your water bottle.
Switch offSo many of us continue to think about work once we’re home, whether that’s discussing the day with our partner, reading emails or chewing over what we need to do the next day. Even though it can be difficult to switch off, we should try to avoid negative conversations, turn off the media and do something that relaxes our mind and body. You might want to put your favourite music on and cook up something special in the kitchen, take an evening walk or watch a film.
The website A Return To Work features a number of case studies about returning to work, which lets you read about real life situations.