With the start of a new school year, many children will be heading back to in-person classes. Likewise, many of us will be asked to return to the office after working remotely over the past year.
While some of us are excited about returning to school and work, not everyone feels this way. Perhaps you and your child have adjusted to working remotely. Newly established family routines may make the thought of reconnecting to in-person school and office life hard.
It's normal to have anxiety and feelings of uncertainty as we begin to return to schools and offices. Caregivers will have to manage their own concerns as well as their child's. How do you cope with the stress of change? Look for signs of anxiety in you and your children, and use these tips to help you and your family cope.
Managing your mental health and anxiety
1. Build a routine
Establish and get used to a new routine before you are expected to be back in person. You can set earlier alarms and get up at the same time each day or ditch the sweat pants and dress as you would for work or school. Build towards implementing your regular routine.
2. Set boundaries
Determine your boundaries beforehand and practice how to tell people about them directly. Discuss personal boundaries with your child and how they can implement them. Decide what you will do if someone does not respect your boundaries. If you are struggling, have an honest conversation with your supervisor.
3. Respect others
Accept that everyone will have their own level of comfort and will make decisions based on that. Respect the decisions people make for their own comfort. Practice non-judgement for people who still prefer to keep their distance and wear a mask. Practice non-judgement for people who engage in close social connections and express relief with no restrictions. Accept that some relationships you had with co-workers before may not be the same.
4. Allow yourself to grieve
Acknowledge and grieve what you will lose. For many, working from home allowed them more time to explore themselves or revive their home space. Parents and children had the opportunity to spend more time with each other. Allow you and your child to feel sad for that.
5. Develop coping strategies
Remember your coping tools. For some, being at home meant being away from specific work-related stresses and anxieties, and therefore less need to use some of their coping tools. Practice those rusty coping tools before you have to get back. Pass those skills down to your children by teaching them ways to cope with the change.
6. Take time for self-care
Try to schedule at least one self-care activity per day. If scheduling doesn't work for you, just be honest with your family about when you need a break. Self-care can also be an opportunity to create meaningful memories with your family. Kids might not always have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling, but there is no doubt that they are feeling impacts of stress, too, so have them join in on the fun!
If you or your family are struggling with the transition, reach out to your EFAP for support. We're here to help!