We’ve spent about a year and a half locked down, working online from home, and although many hated being stuck at home there were many others who enjoyed the freedom it gave us. I can’t quite figure out why I can’t adapt to the new post lockdown routine, so I decided to write a post about it.
Perhaps like this, we can both find out what makes it such a challenge for us to adjust.
Related: How to Stay Focused
Why the Lockdown Wasn’t as Limiting as we Thought
The lockdown enabled me to spend valuable time at home and be with my dogs and cats all day long. The furry gang (that’s what I call them) simply loved having me around all the time. They were over the moon, and I enjoyed it too.
All that time that I would usually spend in traffic – around 2 hours per day – had turned into extra time at home to prepare a nice meal, work on my websites, play with my dogs, and write a book in less time than I usually did.
All my work was done on my laptop, and every hour or half hour I rose and went for a walk on my property. I live in the middle of nowhere, and I always loved that I could just get up, take a break in nature, relax, and then get back to work with a nice cup of tea. I loved the freedom the lockdown gave me.
It sounds ironic, doesn’t it? How can a lockdown create more freedom when many others felt confined? But for me it did. I was free to do what I never – or hardly ever – had the time for when I had to go to work every day. I had time for ME, for what I truly wanted. I had time to work more for my life goals. I was given a taste of what it would be like to be financially independent and work from home – the laptop lifestyle.
And I loved it!
Nothing, and yet Everything, is the Same Now, isn’t it?
Now I’m back at work – in school, I’m a geography and world history teacher. Although I like spending time with my students – and in all honesty, the classes are the only thing I enjoy – everything else is a constant reminder why I can’t be there anymore.
What is “everything else” in a school? It’s just classes, isn’t it?
No, there is so much more.
Administration, consideration (or lack of it), rules, never-ending demands, time-consuming paperwork, some unpleasant colleagues I had completely forgotten about during the lockdown, the fear of being in a classroom with so many people, the apprehension when someone gets too close to me, when students stop caring about the precautions because “everyone” is vaccinated, and so on.
I think that regardless of the work we do, adapting to the new old routine can be hard. When we were locked down, we had more control over keeping social distancing, but when you’re thrown into an office or a room with a bunch of people you are more exposed and you have less control over social distancing, so you have to switch into staying-safe-mode.
Before, it was easier to take care of myself. Now I am more on the defensive. “Keep your distance” – “Don’t get so close to me”
Same Old Different New
I miss working from home. I miss the freedom I used to have during the lockdown. I never felt as if the lockdown was limiting my movements. On the contrary, I was free to do what I couldn’t do before covid when I spent so many hours driving on the highway, giving all of me at work, and working overtime. Now that the lockdown is over I feel as if some of my freedom has been taken away.
It’s back to having little time, back to rushing, dealing with traffic, doing a lot of work for little appreciation, hurrying to get all the chores at home done before the evening, and making sure you get any extra school work fit into your tight afternoon schedule as well.
When the weekend is over I often sit there at night, not wanting to go back on Monday, absolutely not looking forward to it at all. I’d even say that I feel unhappy about it.
Consider All, not Just a Few Select
Much effort is made to ensure that students are comfortable and happy getting back into the old routine with its many rules regarding health and safety. It’s making sure that parents are happy too. However, no one has asked how teachers feel about being back and if they can adapt. The only question we got was if technology was working in the classrooms.
I do understand about keeping customers happy, and after all, the parents are the customers of a school, especially a private school where I work. Nonetheless, companies should remember to keep their employees happy too and it seems to me that some fail miserably at that.
Instead of support or consideration I’ve encountered unpleasant situations with colleagues and some difficulties with administration since the first day back at school. It’s perfectly obvious that the first weeks back are stressful for several reasons, the main one making sure that everything runs smoothly, but one cannot forget the pillars of the company.
Maintain the Pillars of Your Temple
Teachers are the pillars of a school. Office workers are the pillars of a business. Any company has it pillars, but most of those pillars are cracked, making it difficult to carry all the weight. Some pillars may crumble without the support of some extra beams or poles.
Those pillars are also not there to be kicked in frustration when you’re feeling stressed or angry. That’s why you should have a punching bag in your office. Venting at someone because they are “available” is weak. They might be going through a difficult adaptation process too or they might have had a tough morning. You don’t know that. So, don’t do anything to make it worse.
Hit that punching bag, go for a walk, or take a few deep breaths.
How to Adapt to Going Back to Work
If direction, administration, or anyone else in charge at the workplace neglects showing you that they care about your mental health; if they don’t bother checking how easy or hard it is to adapt to going back to work after spending more than a year at home, we have to take matters into our own hands.
If no one helps, we have to help ourselves.
These are some of the things I do:
- When I have a long break, I usually go for a little walk, just to relax, get some fresh air and energy. I feel that it helps staying positive.
- Focus on the positive
- Don’t fixate on all the negative stuff but find the good things and be grateful for them
- If it helps, write down a list of things that make you feel good at work. It could be something as simple as the cool air conditioning that you may not have at home
- Listen to music on your drive to work
- Don’t fret over the bad stuff that happens at work, such as a run in with a colleague or an argument. It’s OK to feel angry. Let it out, but then move on.
- Hang out with the people you get along with. You can’t please everyone. If there’s someone who makes your time at the office challenging, avoid them.
- Prepare for the next day
- Avoid rushing in the morning. Lay out your clothes for the next day the night before. If possible, prepare your box lunch the day before as well.
Final Thoughts and Questions?
How do you feel about being back at work? Has management offered you any moral support adapting to the new old routine? Are you having a hard time adapting? How do you feel being stuck in traffic again, dealing with daily stress, setting the alarm again? Are you happy to have the same routine back and does it give you structure, or are you like me and do you miss the freedom that we found during the lockdown? Let me know in the comments.
Teachers are super heroes and I want to thank you for what you do. I am so sorry to hear you are having difficulties getting back into work. I also found the shutdown freeing. I was stuck in a 9-6 in a management position that served me no purpose. Now I’m writing more, walking more, listening to music again and I am much happier.
I loved your pillar analogy. It’s 100% true. And creating a safe space while you’re at work is very important. I know a lot of people who bring their tennis shoes to work so that they can go on a walk on their breaks. Fresh air always helps.
And setting boundaries when approached by an unhealthy conversation that doesn’t flow with your beliefs. This is something I’ve really had to work on in a post shutdown world.
I hope things start to lighten up for you at work!
Setting boundaries is also a great tip, and I like the idea of bringing tennis shoes to work. I think we all have to work on adapting to the post lockdown world, and it isn’t easy. Nothing is the same anymore.
I think mental health issues have largely been ignored or ‘swept under the carpet’ throughout the pandemic.
I’m not suggesting that favouring more free time rather than going back to work is an issue, but any change in our routines does have either beneficial or detrimental consequences. This is normal!
The challenge we face is knowing how to deal with it if the situation is not to our liking. I’m the type who’s likely to just walk away and go and do the things I would rather be doing instead of suffering the stuff that no longer interests me. However, we also have to take into consideration our ‘needs.’ And the lure of having a job, even a bad one, is that it pays the bills!
So, maybe the best thing we can do is as Haley suggested, and set boundaries and make the best out of the situation until we are in a position to make choices that better resonate with our wants and desires.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m also the walk-away type, but we do have to consider that we have to provide for our needs, we have to pay the bills. We can either learn to adapt or find a better work situation that allows online work.
Setting boundaries is very important, I agree. Once we do that we can create a better immediate work environment.
Thank you for your comment!
I agree that lockdown isn’t as negative as people thought it would be. On the other hand, it did show me something that never came to me. For example, I gained more time for my stuff and being around with my family instead of commuting. Or, I can sleep on my bed during the lunch break.
I also like the tips you shared here to go through a hard time after going back to the office. “Don’t fret over the bad stuff that happens at work!” This is exactly what I need for the moment. Thanks for the recommendations. I think I will do some to ease my tension and stress.
Thanks for visiting again! I’m glad that you liked some of the recommendations.
Have a great week!
Hi Christine. I am a retired teacher and I definitely feel your pain. We are underpaid, under-respected, and under-thought-of! I congratulate you on being able to teach virtually all last year. I’m not sure if I could have handled that successfully given my limited abilities with technology.
I do agree you need to take breaks. I used to eat lunch in my room and listen to calming music while I planned for the rest of the day and upcoming week. I also avoided confrontations with others. Many did not feel that way I did about politics, religion, even how to teach. So it was best to either avoid them or leave the room when they were talking nonsense, what I thought was nonsense!
Your ideas for decompressing are great and your feelings of adapting back into the world are quite valid. Even though I am retired, I am still finding it difficult to feel safe around other people.
Keep on communing with nature. I find that is the best way to relieve stress. I hope some day you will not have as long a commute and you can spend more time doing the things YOU want to do.
Thanks for the article. It was very good and timely!
I always wonder why athletes get paid millions of dollars to play a game while teachers who have such an important job to do and who face so many challenges are paid peanuts, which devaluates the work we do for the community.
Like you, I also eat lunch in my room and I disagree with most of what my colleagues think – the boxed-in 9 to 5, be-a-sheep kind of thinking that we are supposed to teach. I am working hard to achieve more online work so that I can leave school asap. I will continue working from home as soon as I am financially able to do that. It’s a goal I am determined to achieve.
Thank you for your comment!
Its great you came up with tips to help others through your experience. Who would ever thought staying at home could cause illnesses!. But it is real and sending love to everyone struggling out there and stay strong. We were one of the lucky places on earth to avoid those horrible lockdowns here in Perth, AU. We had a max of probably 14days lockdowns and this was not even consecutively for the whole entire time since COVID 19 started. Thanks for the recommendation I am sure many people will find this helpful. All the best with your good work. Angee
That was a short lockdown, I’m surprised to hear it.
Yes, being on lockdown created or increased many mental health issues for a lot of people. I, on the other hand, loved the freedom it gave me.
Thanks for your comment!
Hi Lila, I can relate to what you are saying. Working a job that is frustrating us doesn’t help. I am a nurse and love my job, but it is getting more frustrating because we are the pillars and worn out due to the extra demand; we have already suffered for decades from too much work and not having enough staff. So, Corona has even pressured us more. This is not the way I want to work, being stressed out and feeling exhausted. But I think it is getting worse because you can observe the vaccinated people covering the ICs and wards in most countries.
So, I understand that you loved to stay at home and have your Me-time. I would love it, and maybe I need to do it when the mandates come to be vaccinated for the job. Writing is a great thing, and reaching out to many people using a website or a book is significant.
I hope you will find your way because earning money and doing a job to cover our expenses is not the right decision to go to work. We also need to be happy and feel well because it impacts our bodies and mind. Please, let me know how you decide! I wish you the very best in your journey! You are a fantastic writer! 🙂
I agree, working to just cover our expenses is not the right reason to work, although we do need the job for that, but the main reason should be because we enjoy doing the work and it doesn’t feel like work at all, because we love what we’re doing, but to most people a job is just a means to get money to pay the bills. And yes, we have to pay the bills, but why not do that with a job we enjoy, one that doesn’t drain us physically and psychologically, right?
Thank you for your comment and thank you very much for your compliment about my writing 🙂
Have a great day!
We did not lose anything and had to go nowhere still, we work from home me and my wife. I think that the pandemic has changed a lot of things for everyone, going to work in that traffic you talk about. Before the pandemic, we had the freedom that let us do anything with Wealthy Affiliate. These tips that you give are perfect to do stretch time and grab a bite to eat.
Hi Matthew and Deloris,
Yes, covid changed a lot of things and now that we have gone back to the old normal it isn’t the same anymore, is it? To many it is. Most of my collagues are happy about being back at work, but there are others who’d rather continue working at home. I remember getting so much work done for me and now that I’m back at work I can’t find the time to work on my websites anymore and I feel that I have to stretch myself thin sometimes.
Thank you for your comment.
Hey Lila, my routine hardly changed when the lockdown was installed and vice versa. I am glad I see more people in person now, but as you know I work from home.
I do recognize your situation though from a long time ago. I have been a teacher for 11 years at the start of my working life. And resigned at some point out of frustration. Like you I loved my students but government regulations and unpleasant colleagues got the better of me.
I have never regretted that moment I quit. And found a way to still have the joy of students by giving occasional courses at home or guest lessons at schools.
Good of you, that you recognize your feelings and deal with it! Take care. Kisses (which I can do digitally LOL)
It’s good to see you back here! 🙂
Your comment inspires me to really go for it and quit in December. I am working hard to get more online work and as soon as I have enough, which I plan to achieve by mid December, I want to quit. I might stay until January but January is the final deadline. Your comment gives me hope. And it would be nice to go back once in a while to sub for a teacher or give a guest lecture perhaps. I’d enjoy that.
Thank you for your comment!