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Returning to the office: Tips from a counsellor


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When taking all of the nuances of adjusting to a “COVID normal” work routine into consideration, it’s understandable that some of us are nervous and overwhelmed about more change. One of our Help Centre counsellor’s Emma tells us how we can be gentle with ourselves during this adjustment period. Here are Emma’s top tips which we’ve found most helpful!  


1. Acknowledge your emotions 

Humans are creatures of habit; we like routine and consistency. This is why change is hard. The unknown can bring up feelings such as anxiety, fear, uncertainty, dread, curiosity. It takes time to adapt to change. 



The more we push away negative emotions, the stronger they can become. Try to acknowledge these feelings are normal when adapting to a change, allow them, and sit with them. 


2. Managing anxiety 

Focus on what is within your control (your own hygiene practices for instance) and try to let go of what is outside of it (the behaviour of others).  


3. Plan ahead 

Being prepared in advance can help you avoid potential stressors in your day, for example: 

  • Your transport to work (car, public transport, parking, traffic)
  • If you are anxious about using public transport during peak hour, perhaps you can start, and finish work earlier to avoid the crowds
  • You may choose to take your own food if you are uncomfortable going to cafes or malls.
  • Practising mindfulness during or before your commute through apps such as Smiling Mind, Headspace meditation apps can also be really helpful. New to mindfulness? You can find more information through our factsheet

4. Keep your good habits/routines 

If you developed some habits or routines while working from home that have benefited your mental health, try to keep these up, for example:

  • Getting fresh air, sunshine, doing a lunch time workout or a morning walk.
  • Logging off/leaving work on time or starting earlier and finishing earlier. 

5. Look for the positives 

  • Transitioning back to a more fast-paced environment may seem daunting. Remind yourself that you managed that before and will work your way back up to it in your own time. 
  • Remember - we’ve all come through a really tough year and that’s an achievement in itself.



Situations are rarely black or white, all good or all bad. Even if you are feeling overwhelmed about the return to work, try to look for some small things you are looking forward to (for example, seeing colleagues, having a clearer separation between home and work life).


6. Ask for support 

  • Be open about your concerns and how you are going. Whether this is with your manager, HR, colleagues, family or friends, keep a dialogue happening. Some workplaces can be flexible during the transition back to the office. 
  • Continue to check in with your regular supports such as a GP or psychologist.  


Seeking help via SANE Support 

If you (or someone you know) needs support, SANE Support is here to help.

Chat online 24/7 with our professional counsellors and other people just like you via our free SANE Forums community, or contact our professional counsellors by phone, web chat or email for free support via our Help Centre, available Monday – Fridays 10am - 10pm.