The Delta variant and breakthrough infections have complicated plans for a smooth return to the physical workplace, reigniting concerns over safety, even among vaccinated workers.
For those who developed a mental health condition during the pandemic, or whose existing disorders were worsened by a prolonged period of fear and isolation, working from home may have offered a refuge.
We spoke to experts about ways to ease anxiety for those heading back to their desks after a year and a half of split-screen meetings and a morning commute to the kitchen. It’s important to identify which elements of coming back to the office you’re afraid of, one expert said.
Another, Dr. Judson Brewer, author of “Unwinding Anxiety,” suggested keeping a sticky note handy that lists some coping mechanisms. Dr. Brewer, the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, recommends a simple five-finger breathing routine for anxiety: Hold one hand in front of you, with your fingers spread out. Using your index finger, slowly trace the outside of your other hand, taking your time and breathing in when you trace up a finger, then out when you trace down. This helps ground people in their direct physical experience, while slowing down their breathing, he said. It’s also quick and discreet.