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Since many offices have started recalling workers affected by the pandemic, many have been diagnosed with social anxiety.

Getting back to work can be very distressing for people with social anxiety. They might feel overwhelmed by thinking about what to wear or how to act. Physically, it can trigger various symptoms, such as increased heart rate and breathlessness.

On a Tuesday afternoon in March, Benjamin Miller, a psychologist and the head of a mental health foundation, said he felt anxious as he attended his first in-person event following the pandemic.

He said that exposing himself to the things that make him anxious could help people feel more comfortable in certain situations. After two hours, he said that he started to remember what it was like to be social.

According to Miller, employers are morally obligated to make workplaces safe for everyone, especially those with anxiety disorders. For instance, they can help by normalizing conversations in company emails.

Some Tips

  • Before heading back to work, try to meet up with your colleagues. This could help alleviate some of the anxiety you might feel when you return to the office. 
  • Talking to a close friend or colleague about their feelings can be helpful.
  • If you are new to the office, try finding a mentor or guide to help you navigate the new environment. 
  • Ask your colleagues about their weekend plans and how they feel about returning to the office.
  • Make your space comfortable. Having something that can remind you of home can help you feel more comfortable. For instance, you might place a photo of your pet on your desk.

Wind Down After Work

After work, try to plan something enjoyable to do, as the return to the office might make you feel drained. One of the most important factors that people can consider when dealing with anxiety is to set aside an hour to relax. Watching a favorite TV show or reading a book can help put aside the workday.

Getting back into the office can be easier if you start slowly, with small daily or weekly increments. This will help you get used to the new environment and avoid experiencing the worst of social anxiety.

When To Seek Professional Help?

Two main signs that someone needs to seek professional help are if their anxiety interferes with their daily life and their inability to sleep. If the discomfort persists for several months, it is time to talk to a mental health professional.

If you are experiencing social anxiety, try to be kind to yourself. Many people have been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the past couple of years. Give yourself grace as you learn how to live in a new world.