As pandemic restrictions ease — especially with Gov. Doug Ducey ending the COVID-19 public health emergency in Arizona — your time working from home may be coming to an end and that may have you feeling some back-to-office stress.

Remember, it’s normal to have some worry about a change in your routine — and you may not be the only one at your company who’s feeling it. In a survey by the American Psychological Association, roughly half of adults reported being uneasy about returning to in-person interactions.

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A major life change — like where you work — may be one of your stress triggers. The important thing is to recognize the anxiety and come up with healthy ways to help manage it. Below, are five tips that may help with reducing stress in your transition back to the workplace:

Dr. Donna O’Shea, chief medical officer of population health management, UnitedHealthcare.

1. Manage your time – When the pandemic began, your day-to-day schedule may have shifted. Before things shift back, think about making a list of all you’ll need to do to be ready for each day. A detailed schedule may help you feel less overwhelmed.

2. Focus on lifestyle choices – Is how you lived during the pandemic playing a role in the stress you’re feeling? Things like prioritizing sleep, eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol may all help with managing your anxiety around a return to the workplace.   

3. Get moving – Exercise and the feel-good endorphins it creates can be an important part of stress reduction and overall health. Consider adding regular workouts to your schedule. Also, look for easy ways to add movement to your day, such as standing for phone calls or using the stairs instead of the elevators.

4. Try meditation – Focused meditation and deep breathing may help ease your bouts with stress and can have lasting health benefits. Think about taking time in the morning or scheduling breaks during the day to practice meditation and other mindfulness techniques.

5. Consider an app – You may have access to digital health tools that can be useful for managing worry or stress. For example, eligible UnitedHealthcare members can download the Sanvello app for on-demand help with mental health issues. The app includes daily mood tracking, a variety of coping tools, weekly check-ins to track personalized progress and peer community support.

One more thing: If you’re stressed about going back to the office due to the risk of contracting COVID-19, keep in mind, there are things you can do to help protect yourself and others. Consider talking with your manager about your concerns and some possible solutions, including staggering your work hours to avoid high-traffic entry and exit points or increasing space between your workspace and others.


Dr. Donna O’Shea is chief medical officer of population health management for UnitedHealthcare.