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Return To The Office: Expert Gives Tips On Conquering Anxiety, Getting Back To In-Person Work

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After a year of working at your kitchen table in your pajamas or sweats, the idea of going back into the office can be a bit overwhelming.

But with each new month more and more people are returning to their desks.

There are so many nuances to returning to the office that we have to take into consideration. Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers from the Cleveland Clinic says a little bit of advance planning can significantly help, starting with those sweats.

"Put those aside. Get out the professional clothes. This is going to help to change your mindset, and your self esteem, as you return back to the work environment."

If you can get into your office before your first work day, she says, "look at your environment, sit in your chair, get comfortable before you return."

"Tidy up your desk. Psychological research indicates that you could have more focus and concentration by having a neat environment."
But if you're in the July 1 crowd and maybe feeling some anxiety, you are far from alone.

"Many people are excited to get back to normal life. But there's also a lot of anxiety."

Dr. Albers says that anxiety is driven by change.

"Psychologically, fear plus change in habit is a difficult combination for our brains to adapt to."

And it impacts everyone differently.

"Some people are very excited, and others are very nervous. Be honest with yourself about what you were feeling in regards to return to work. If you're feeling a little anxious, this is quite normal, and give yourself some time to adjust."

She advises giving yourself at least four weeks to adjust.

And if your anxiety continues after that, it might be time to seek help.

But, there are more tips on how to keep that anxiety in check at the office:

"You can also move chairs further apart. You can also create some natural barriers, stand behind your desk, instead of next to a person in front of you."

And Dr. Albers says bring in a new potted plant.

"Research indicates that this helps to reduce your stress level by about 15%."

And don't forget to sleep.

"Getting back into a normal and routine sleep schedule is going to be very important."

And Dr. Albers says if you feel more comfortable continuing to wear your mask, do it, until you feel comfortable without it. And finally, don't be shy about talking to your employer about things that really worked for you while working from home and see if you can apply those strategies to your work in the office.

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