A guide to managing anxiety in the workplace during COVID-19

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Many South Africans have been going to work since level five restrictions eased in 2020. But as the new year arrived, many returned to work after a short break. This brings with it a number of anxieties. There is no telling where employers or employees have been during the break. It’s natural to feel uneasy about returning to work. 

It’s important to understand that it’s completely normal to feel that way, especially with the current situation in South Africa. Here are a few ways to manage it. 

Read more: Solidarity Fund: Back to work but don’t be a mampara 

Find out about your company policies

We know this is a time of survival and many people are just hoping to keep their jobs with the rising rate of joblessness. But it’s important to find out what policies and plans your company has put in place in terms of occupational safety but also social support. It’s imperative to know your rights during the pandemic so you can take action if they are being violated. Check out the official government guidance for working safely during coronavirus and the health and safety guidance your workplace should be adhering to. 

Read more: A guide to keeping safe at work during Covid-19

Remember to share your feelings 

If you’re feeling uncertain and not comfortable returning to work, speak to your colleagues and employers about it. You could be anxious about getting infected or taking the virus home to the vulnerable people in your household. Share how you are feeling and maybe you can work out ways to ensure you and the people in your workplace keep safe. Ask your boss if it’s possible to work from home if your job permits it. If it doesn’t and you’re working in the field, ask for concessions when travelling to work. Perhaps you can travel to work outside of the busy commute periods. 

Read more: Coronavirus: What rights do I have as an employee at the workplace? 

Be prepared

We’ve been living with the coronavirus for almost a year now and have to be prepared to live with it for a long time yet. It’s good to always be prepared and keep yourself reminded about the necessary safety precautions. Remember to always wear a mask while travelling, keep it on at work. Wash your mask regularly or throw away single-use masks after one wear. Remember to wash your hands regularly and keep a bottle of sanitiser handy if water isn’t easily available. If you can’t afford a mask or sanitiser, make sure to alert your employer that it is their responsibility to provide these things in the workplace. 

Be kind to yourself and others

Take care of yourself during this time. While self-care and self-kindness might seem like a fluffy idea, and is inaccessible to many, it’s very important. Self-care is more than just spending a lot of money online shopping or using a facemask. It can be about sorting out the things in your life whether it’s around the house or with your own health. Being kind to yourself in the midst of this pandemic and all the stress it’s causing is very important. 

Read more: We urgently need to think beyond “self-care”

Also make sure to follow the rules: mask up, sanitise and wash your hands regularly. And help the people in your workplace adhere as well. 

Featured image via Wikicommons

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