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6 ways to reduce anxiety about going back to the office

If you’re feeling fearful about heading back to your office desk, you’re not alone. Here are some techniques that can help

Source | | GWEN MORAN

After more than a year of remote work, companies are eyeing COVID-19 vaccination and infection rates to make plans for returning to the office. Some have already opened their doors, putting a variety of safety protocols and policies in place. Others are making plans for the future.

Roughly half of employees are uncomfortable about going back, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association.

It makes sense, says Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital Weil-Cornell School of Medicine and author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius. For more than a year, we’ve been making enormous changes in our lives to fight an invisible enemy in the virus, she says. The changes were reinforced by fear and the feeling that they were making those changes to protect themselves and those they love.

“It’s not as simple as turning it off like a switch. Any major behavioral change one makes driven by fear, then gets reinforced in a cognitive-behavioral sense—that reinforces that behavior. So now, doing something different is, after that habit has been formed over a long period of time, will incite some anxiety,” she says.

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