Are you feeling apprehensive or worried about returning to work?

We have all been looking forward to getting back to some kind of ‘normality’ after the last year and all it has brought to us individually. We can’t help but see all the excitement and buzz around pubs, retail and hospitality re-opening, and it’s a great collective feeling of hope and connection, but it is also a time that many will be feeling anxious, confused and worried about.

As lots of us return to work, there is a lot to think about. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways and so it is totally normal to be feeling a little worried or uncertain about what the future holds.

Why do I feel anxious?

This has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone, globally. Many of us have had to adjust our lives rapidly to a changing world around us. 

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we feel that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

It is important to remember we are all unique, with our own emotions around these changes due to the pandemic. It is not helpful to compare ourselves to the experiences others may be having or have had. We all feel things in different ways and therefore react and behave differently when faced with adversity.

It’s ok to feel anxious or uncertain.

Returning to work

As we have talked about, everyone’s situation is unique. However, we have pulled together some general tips and advice that can hopefully help you transition back to work and stay mentally healthy over the coming months.

Plan and prepare

Think about your job and your personal situation – what has changed? What do you need to help you do your job well? It can be useful to write some things down that you can take to your manager. You might have questions about what provisions have been made to make your workplace safe or what things will be different about your role going forward.

Talk to your manager and connect with colleagues 

When we worry, it is typically associated with the unknown, or feeling that we are out of control. 

It is important to talk and share with those around you. It could be arranging to talk to your line manager, learning and understanding what the next few months have been planned to look like, what expectations they have of you and what you feel able to give.

Share concerns and worries with your colleagues, chances are they are feeling the same way! 

Have a look at what it means to bring your whole self to work here

Take things one step at a time

Don’t expect everything to be exactly the same. It can be frustrating or bring up feelings of anxiety but remember adjustment to any change takes time, so make sure you give yourself and others around you that time. 

It could be a positive opportunity to do things differently, change systems and processes for the better! 

Maintain a positive routine

When all around you is change, it can be helpful to our mental health and wellbeing to maintain a good daily routine in and out of work. Schedule in breaks at work, make realistic goals and talk to your manager. Embrace the good things in your life. Having gratitude and making time for activities you enjoy come as a welcome distraction to any worries you may have. 

Have a look at the importance of friendships for good mental health here

Monitor and review how you are getting on

You’ve done the hard bit of returning to work, understanding any changes to your work life and maintaining some positive activities. Now what? 

It is important to have regular ‘check-ins’. These can be making time to ask yourself some questions and reflect on how you have been getting on. You could also schedule a catch-up with your manager to ensure you are on track at work and discuss future goals. 

Lastly (and most importantly) Be kind to yourself! 

What support and kind words would you use for someone you love who was having a tough time, worried or anxious? Now, talk to yourself with that same love and compassion!

We are all finding our own way through the upheaval and changes over the last year, so make sure to be kind to yourself and others around you.


If you need support for your mental health today, you can find a list of support contacts here


Are you thinking about Mental Health training at your place of work? We have dedicated Mental Health Training Specialists to consult with you and your organisation on strategy, implementing mental health training, including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and all wellbeing-related policies…

Book your FREE consultation now!

We believe in equality between mental and physical health, that’s why we provide training in both.