HOUSTON - Now that our COVID-19 rates are going down and more people are getting vaccinated, many companies are announcing plans to bring workers back to the office. But for some, just the thought of it is provoking anxiety and dread.
We talked to the Chair of Psychiatry at Houston Methodist Hospital for some coping techniques.
We know that millions of people have worked from home the past year during the pandemic. The American Psychological Association took a poll and found out that half of Americans are uneasy about returning to in-person interactions. New habits have formed while working from home, and let's face it, old habits can be hard to break.
"We're all creatures of habit, and we get used to something, and that becomes kind of our normal and what we like, and for most of us to push us out of what we're used to, out of our comfort zone, creates a little bit of anxiety. Now, for some people, going back to work is a change now, they're not used to it. There's also a lot of fear about COVID, catching COVID, giving COVID to other people," explains Dr. Ben Weinstein from Houston Methodist Hospital.
If you're uncomfortable about either going back to your job or looking for a new one, Dr. Weinstein suggests you take baby steps. He has been helping many people deal with these emotions.
"I encourage people to talk about it, because one thing that can be a problem is that we all live in our own mind, and it's helpful to talk to other people, and we build things up and say, I'm the only one experiencing this. The reality is, 50% of people are experiencing this! Talk about it, and that helps demystify things and reduce our anxiety," says Dr. Weinstein.
The next step would be to figure out WHY you're in panic mode about going back to the office and then turn that fear into something positive.
"If I'm worried about what's going to happen with my kids because I have to get to work. What does that mean? It means, I have wonderful children that I love and I care about and want the best for them. Take the anxiety and look at what its meaning is, and then use that as a good. I'm going try to look at some basic problem-solving techniques," explains Dr. Weinstein.
There's even a test on the market now that will give you a clear look into your genetics to see why you might be anxious. Your genes could actually be playing a role in your thoughts and attitudes about work. The mental health map focuses on mental health issues.
"It's not to be used to diagnose any kind of mental health condition, it's really there to help show us our temperament and attitudes or where we may be predisposed. It helps us point out areas where that might help explain something like, you know what, I got built to be a little bit more anxious, it's okay. It's not my fault. I'm not just afraid or it might help you realize if I struggle in this area, maybe I need to do a little work there and kind of build some strength in that area that might normally be a weakness for me," states Dr. Weinstein. He goes on to say that information can be empowering and validating.
Click here for more information about that test: https://www.genomind.com It's also available on Amazon.