The Importance Of Managing Stress And Anxiety About Going Back To Work During COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on daily life continue to evolve, many of you may be facing the prospect of returning to the workplace. Most of us feel anxiety about going back to work at the best of times. But with the uncertainty of COVID-19, stress and anxiety is at an all-time high.

Just as we started to accept the ‘new normal’, new measures have been put in place to lift lockdown. You might not know what to expect or find yourself worrying about whether it is safe for you to return to work.


Long-term stress can cause issues with your mental and physical health. It is important to manage the stress before it starts affecting your daily life.

We want to help. So, we have put this article together to help you feel better and less anxious about going back to work.

What Causes Anxiety and Stress?

Most people experience stress now and again. Stress is a demand placed on your brain or body. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or unease.

These are not always bad in small doses or in certain scenarios. In fact, they can help you to overcome challenging situations. What is not so good  is when these build up and affect your day-to-day life.

The type of anxiety we are talking about with COVID-19 is related to uncertainty. Our ‘normal’ continues to change and we do not know what the future looks like. This can trigger excessive worrying and negative thoughts, which will lead to poor mental health and even physical symptoms.

For people with pre-existing anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may be experiencing a flare up of your symptoms. Thinking about going back to work may trigger or bring back past conditions.

If you are seeking urgent mental health support, here is a list of urgent support channels available to help you. 

Though doubt remains as the pandemic continues, there are things you can do to help you feel better about returning to the workplace.

How to Prepare for the Stresses of Returning to Work

The best way to manage stress and anxiety about going back to work is to prepare yourself. By thinking things through, you will be able to rationalise your thoughts  and go into the workplace feeling ready.

Talk to your manager about working from home. Guidelines from the government still say that you should “work from home if you can”.

If this is not possible for your line of work, you can ask your employer to consider flexible working. Perhaps you and your colleagues can come in on different days or change your hours to avoid busy commuting times.

Try to be mindful of  your well-being. Practicing mindfulness helps you to stay in the moment and improves your mental health. Enjoy the little things about being at home rather than constantly worrying about when you might have to go back to work. Start your journey to better well-being by downloading our toolkit.

Be realistic – some  things are out of our power. Try to stop  reading every bit of news on coronavirus as this may make you feel more worried and  feel more stressed. As things continue to change and uncertainty continues, try to accept that it is impossible to control the whole situation but know that you can control aspects of it that relate to you.

Measures to Take Once You Are Back at Work

Getting through the office door is one thing. Staying there whilst feeling anxious is another! Always follow the government guidelines to help keep you safe.

Wear a mask and wash your hands when you can. Consider carrying a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitiser with you at all times, so you can quickly clean your hands in a snap.

Do engage with people and say hello – remember that we are all experiencing a sense of uncertainty at this time and social engagement is a great way of calming our stress response . It will give you a positive boost to see your colleagues again. Try to maintain 2m distance between people. Avoid sharing workstations and minimise touching the same areas.

If you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed, take a few minutes break for yourself. Breathe deeply to help focus the mind and calm the body. This will only take a few minutes and are simple to perform. See here for some breathing exercises.


Be honest with your boss. If you find the experience of being back at work too much, you should talk to your line manager or a colleague from HR. Not only will talking it out help you feel better, but you might be able to come to an agreement about better practices.

Do You Need Extra Help to Manage Anxiety About Going Back to Work?

Remember that it is always OK to ask for help. To manage your chronic stress and anxiety in the long-term, we would recommend that you speak to your GP. They will be able to offer strategies to help you cope better.

Alternatively, our osteopaths all have extra training in stress illness recovery and osteopathy can be used to help treat stress. We have many non-intrusive methods to help relieve feelings of overwhelm and we will show you techniques that you can take away from appointments, to use when needed.

At Osteopathy For All, we offer consultations and continue to support our clients and the wider community with osteopathic services.

Visit our appointments page, call us on 01825 840582 or email to speak to one of our team.