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Getting Back Into Work With Poor Mental Health

Returning back to work after anything can be proven difficult at the best of times, even returning after having a holiday. Therefore, if we have had to take time away due to our mental health we may become overwhelmed at the thought of returning. This blog will provide some tips on how to make yourself feel more at ease about returning.

Stress, depression and anxiety are the most rated work illnesses. Therefore means that employees are most likely to take time away from work to recover from these feelings. Once they have taken the time away needed to be in a better mental space returning may feel daunting to them.

Returning to Work Interview

Once returning to work your employer should host a return to work interview. Now after being away for some time this can sound daunting or make one feel a bit on edge. However, these are not only there to benefit the employer but also the employee.

A returning to work meeting gives you the opportunity to discuss anything you might need or even want within the work environment. Meaning that if someone has been able to identify their stress triggers they could discuss these to avoid the repetition of too much mental exhaustion within the workplace.

Preventing mental exhaustion is very important to our own health and can even affect our physical health and could take up to a year to recover from. We have done a blog all about mental exhaustion if you would like to take a read.

6 Tips for Returning to Work

With many things, there are not always right and wrong ways to do them, a lot of the time it is personal preference on how to do many things. That is the same with returning to work, the best thing to do is make it as easy for yourself as you can.

Here are some tips that will help ease the transition of returning back to work:

  1. Create a schedule with your manager - Having everything as structured as possible allows you to feel in control and both yourself and your manager to be aware of what it is you are doing.

  2. Having regular catch-ups with your manager - This allows many opportunities to voice anything that you’re finding helpful or things getting on top of you to avoid a build-up over time.

  3. Develop a wellness plan of action (WAP) - This allows you to feel at ease knowing that there is something to fall back on when things get tough.

  4. Look into special support services - Your employer may off for you to be in therapy or support group and these are great things to take and look into to support yourself.

  5. Always ask for changes where needed - It is important to always voice your concern. Always as make changes to your position in needed to allow you to meet the best work potential that you can.

  6. Find out if you can apply for access to work - This scheme offers extra support to those within work for their mental health.

These tips may not work for everyone and people may find only a few of these useful to them. However, they just make that return to work a bit smoother.

5 Boundaries to put in Place When Returning to Work

One thing that many of us find difficult in many situations is maintaining healthy boundaries and it can be extremely hard to do so at work. However, once we establish these boundaries things become easier. We do also have a blog on keeping healthy boundaries within a workplace if you want to have a read.

5 Boundaries to put in place for work:

  1. Avoid working outside of your work hours - Working outside of your work hour will have you feeling as if you do not get a break from work and will not have a healthy balance of work to personal life.

  2. Always take your lunch break - Even on days where you may not be hungry or even have loads of work. Taking your lunch break every day allows you to refresh your mind and prevents your work from taking over your own needs.

  3. Take time off when needed - If you are advised by any health care professional or even able to recognize that you need time away from work, make sure to take it.

  4. Communicate upfront - Always be open and honest about what you are thinking and feeling. This prevents as much miss understanding as possible.

  5. Avoid being involved with gossip - If some work colleague is discussing their personal lives try to keep to work business as you want to try and set a clear boundary between your personal and work life.

There are many more boundaries people can put in place to help with poor mental health within the workplace. These boundaries may not work for everyone but work for others and people may have their own ones that they have found work for them. It is all a case of finding what works for you.

Gradual Return to Work

When looking at returning to work after having a long absence due to poor mental health, it might be a good idea to look at taking a gradual approach to return. Instead of throwing yourself back into your full hours as well as full commitments of the job.

There is nothing wrong with needing a slower return to work as long as you are open and honest and communicate this to your employer. You may feel the need to request that among your return you cut down some hours and add them on over time to allow yourself to get back into your work mindset.

Taking a gradual return allows you to not put too much pressure on yourself to meet high expectations of your work environment. Allowing yourself time to still take care of yourself. However, this being said it is also okay to decide you want to return fully as soon as you can as long as you allow time to yourself.

Anxiety About Returning to Work

Anxiety about returning to work is perfectly normal and it is important to remember that it is normal and okay to feel anxious. When feeling anxious the best thing to do is remember that it is a normal feeling and okay to feel this way. Try to find something that you enjoy to help calm you down and keep you present in your situations.

Be open and honest with your employer about the fact that you are feeling anxious and on edge as this will help to provide a clear understanding of what your needs for support are. Try to remind yourself of the positives of returning to work, this might be:

  • Being able to see colleagues again

  • Separating your work and personal life

  • Getting back into a well-structured routine

If you feel you would like a better insight into the ongoing mental health problems, we do offer online Mental Health First Aid courses.

Provided by an instructor qualified under Mental Health First Aid England, allowing yourself to become a qualified Mental Health First Aider.

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I am a multi-award-winning women's healthcare advocate.


I am extremely passionate about women's healthcare and mental health.

Did you know that - You are more likely to meet someone about to attempt suicide than about to have a heart attack? Everyone should know what to do.


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