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Contemplating: the Anxiety Gamble

Contemplating: the Anxiety Gamble

Charlotte Willis

Every day, we are used to taking mediated risks. We are used to the anxiety gamble…

We stay a few minutes longer in bed than our commute allows us to, cycle on busy roads, take public transport, eat the pot of yoghurt that’s slightly past its use-by date… These micro-risks are part and parcel of an average day for many of us (although perhaps you are better at keeping yoghurt than me… I digress). But when you throw these risks into a day riddled with uncertainty surrounding your health, wealth, job-role, wellbeing and future (all of which are now affected, thanks to COVID) suddenly these risks become overwhelming.

 

Welcome to the great Anxiety Gamble.

A game which sees you risk your mental wellbeing and stability in order to slot back into society’s dictation of what you should or should not be doing with your return to work. Peer pressure from friends to go back to the crowded bars every Friday afternoon? Perhaps you see colleagues ditching their WFH lives and commuting their way back to the office as fast as they could sell their Ikea desks and laptop stands on Facebook Marketplace? 

 

There is so much pressure on ourselves to return back to a distorted working normality, which in itself is anxiety-provoking, that it’s easy to feel the odds of mental wellness stacking up against you.

Minimising your risks in the Anxiety Gamble will not only safeguard your mental health but will also enhance your ability to thrive and be productive. Here’s how to swing the odds back in your favour. 

Exploring your triggers

In order to overcome anxious thoughts, we need to first explore what exactly is triggering our concerns, before attempting to gain control and work with our fears. When you have 30 minutes to yourself in a calm and safe environment, explore your feelings of anxiety towards returning to work. What specific aspects of returning are you feeling the most anxious about? Think about why this may be? 

 

Once your concerns are noted down, you can begin to work through them. The secret to turning the odds in your favour? Adjusting your working life to adapt to your concerns. This is a proactive way of taking control of an uncertain situation and will help reduce your chance of losing the Anxiety Gamble. At this period in time, your employees (and if your self-employed, this also applies to you) should be more than understanding about your concerns, and willing to alter your “normal” working day accordingly. 

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Managing your triggers

You may find that working towards off-peak commute hours, working part-time from home, and weekly team check-ins to ensure everyone’s mental health is monitored, help you to adjust your working life. You must also manage your own internal expectations of workload, focus and completion during your period of adjustment. Be cautious that deadlines you’d normally reach in a few days, may now take a week or more to complete, and that this is completely ok and temporary.

 

Most importantly, now is the time to be honest and open with yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident with an aspect of your return to work, it is far better to fold and choose an alternative pathway to success, rather than to gamble all you’ve got on something with an undesirable loss. 

Find more of Charlotte’s Contemplations in the Digital Magazine.

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