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.