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Exhausted from going back to the office? Here’s how to cope.


If you're feeling tired after your first few weeks in the office, you're not alone. Dr. Frank Chow explains why return-to-office exhaustion is real and how you can beat it.

Most employees across Australia have spent the better part of last year working from home. A McCrindle Research survey of over 580 Australians shows that when given the choice, 78% expressed a desire to spend at least a certain part of their time working from home. After months of working from the comfort of their bed, couch, desk or kitchen table, it's not a surprise that some people may not be as interested to return to their old work routine.

With restrictions eased and workers being asked to return to the office, it is only natural that some may feel unprepared, uneasy or simply exhausted adjusting back to office life. A survey by Melbourne University Academics Lyn Craig and Brendan Churchill reveals that 44.27% of women felt rushed pre-COVID-19 and only 19.11% cent felt rushed during the pandemic. Similarly, 35.38% felt rushed or pressed for time pre-COVID-19 and only 21.8% during the pandemic. From waking up an hour early to get ready to commute to the office, workers are once again having to adjust and adapt to a new set of workplace arrangements.

Perhaps the biggest question is then: With all the changes we've been through, how do you cope with mental exhaustion and workplace fatigue in today's workplace?

Here are five tips to make your transition back into the office a little easier:

1. List down what you want or need to do

Note all the actions you need to tick off throughout the day and include the things you need to prepare before going back to the office. From transport schedules, traffic estimations, meal preps and even your attire, we may overlook these things that are absent when we are working from home.

2. Establish a new routine

With old office routines fading out of existence, establishing a new and better routine will bring out the feeling of a new fresh start. After all, when so much seems out of our control, we must try to establish a structure to our days to provide stability. Decide what the ideal routine looks like to you and put it in a realistic order. After you have it all planned out, try it and see how it flows. Remember that you can always adjust and find something that works better for you.

3. Find a way to make your commute more meaningful

Whether it be your partner, colleague or even a friend, find ways to make commuting to work fun and meaningful. This is also an opportunity for you to reconnect with your loved ones. Sharing your thoughts and feelings may release any built-up tension. Seize the moments in your daily commute.

4. Map out gradual re-introductions

If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a pause, step back and assess your situation. Try to communicate your struggles with your employers and negotiate for a slower introduction if necessary. Slow down to a pace that allows you to adapt and avoid unwanted stress. When you slow down, you will be more present to the things happening around you. This will put you at ease to explore new ideas and thought processes, which in turn increases productivity without sacrificing your mental health and wellbeing.

5. Get help and support

Chances are that you are not the only one feeling the same way so remember that you are not alone in this journey. Talk to your friends, colleagues, mentor, family or loved ones about your struggles. If the feeling persists, be open to the idea of reaching out for professional help and exploring ways you can ease back to office life.

Taking care of your mental health is more important than you imagine, so never put it under the carpet.

Dr Frank Chow is the director and psychiatrist at 2OP Health, a specialist in organisational and occupational psychiatric service, specialising in workplace-related mental health care. With years of experience, Dr Chow is passionate about advocating early intervention, education and rehabilitation for all individuals so they can get back on track with improved clarity, motivation and fulfilment at work.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information contained in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort. Neither the author nor Finder has taken into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.

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Pictures: Getty Images, Supplied

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