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Back to life, back to reality: return to work anxiety diagnosis CAS: understanding Covid anxiety syndrome

Back to life, back to reality: return to work anxiety diagnosis CAS: understanding Covid anxiety syndrome

 17th May 2021

There is a general readjusting process as we return to work or ‘normal life’ but as we loosen restrictions and return to our old day to day activities – nothing is normal. We have to adjust to the new normal and that is scary!

Reintegrating employees into the office

This week we enter into the next phase of the easing of the lockdown restrictions. Meaning we can dine indoors and hug our loved ones but what is an exciting week for some is also worrying for others, as a lot of people may be experiencing ‘re-entry’ syndrome.

As we do after having been off sick or on maternity, there is a general readjusting process as we return to work or ‘normal life’ but as we loosen restrictions and return to our old day to day activities – nothing is normal. We have to adjust to the new normal and that is scary!

Recently there has been a term thrown around- ‘Covid anxiety syndrome’ and its real, its happening and its nothing to be ashamed of.

Covid anxiety syndrome

The concept of ‘Covid anxiety syndrome’ was first theorised by professors last year, when Ana Nikčević, of Kingston University, and Marcantonio Spada, at London South Bank University, noticed people were developing a particular set of traits in response to Covid.

The anxiety syndrome is characterised by compulsively checking for covid symptoms, avoiding public areas, and obsessive cleaning, a pattern of “maladaptive behaviours” adopted at the start of the pandemic.

Now researchers have said, the obsessive worrying and threat avoidance, including people not willing to take public transport or obsessively cleaning shopping and homes will not just simply go away - even after the Covid virus is controlled.

Fearing the virus is completely normal as we all know, it is a major threat to our society but the issue lies in whether people are so overly cautious that they are locked by fear and this then effects them reengaging with society and resuming some sort of normality.

Vaccination is not a remedy and the concern is, whether people are vaccinated or not, those deeply rooted fears still exist.

Researchers used self-reported data in June 2020 from about 500 US participants, and found that the syndrome predicted levels of generalised anxiety and depression above and beyond factors such as personality traits and general health anxiety.

Now, the same researchers, along with Ian Albery, professor of psychology at London South Bank University, have gathered preliminary data from self-reported surveys of nearly 300 adults in the UK in February 2021, suggesting Covid anxiety syndrome was an independent predictor of generalised anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

Relieving Stress 

The pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing new challenges in our lives that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions to run high in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.

While there is no quick fix to relieving anxieties over Covid, there are some things we can be doing to ensure we are keeping ourselves and the people around us feel save and reintegrate slowly so everyone feels comfortable.

One of the main factors to come out of the pandemic is higher stress levels. Whether that is worries over the virus, financial stress, work stress or anything else. It’s so important to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.

Stress and anxiety can cause the following: 

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others.

Luckily a lot of employers have recognised these concerns and are doing everything they can to make the transition back into the office as less stressful at they can but there are some things we can be doing ourselves to make it a little easier. 

> Here are Starford’s top ten tips for a smooth transition back into the office - HERE

The NHS have also offered some sound advice to those worried about Covid in their 10 tips to help if you are worried about COVID-19.

Back to work!

If you are an individual looking for some extra support or an employer wanting to ensure your staff come back to work feeling happy, healthy and ready for the next chapter, get in touch with the Leading Well team today! As HR and wellbeing consultants and trainers, with over 20 years experience in supporting organisations in Leading Well, we successfully place health, resilience and wellbeing at the very heart of every business

The reality of having to go back into the office, the commute, the socialising, the sharing of amenities - is all a bit too much for some. We work closely with clients to help them achieve their wellbeing priorities and goals and help create happy and healthy workplaces and cultures of wellbeing. With a huge catalogue of upcoming workshops and online events – we are sure to have you covered.

Check out our upcoming workshops