Return to Work Challenges

The lifestyle changes that have been brought about by sheltering at home can take a large toll on us, both mentally and physically.  The longer that we stay indoors, the larger hole that we dig for ourselves, and the more difficult the transition will be when we return to work.  By taking part in implementing small, daily changes, we can limit the damage caused by our shelter-in-place lifestyle, and seamlessly transition back into the workplace.

Prepare For Work Demands

We become accustomed to the demands of our work over time, and our body adapts in ways that help it to meet the challenges of day-to-day rigor.  Unfortunately, if we are not subjecting our body to these demands, we will inevitably lose the adaptations that we have built, and we become deconditioned.  While we may not be able to work at the same capacity from home, it is important that we stimulate our muscles, and show our body that it still has a job to perform.

Be active throughout your day.  As we have been sheltered-in-place, many of us have been physically inactive for most, if not all of the day.  It is important to simulate the demands of your work environment, which likely involves standing, walking, and lifting.  Be mindful of your activity-level at home, and make sure to get up and move around for at least 2 minutes every half-hour.

Aerobic fitness will allow you to accomplish your daily tasks with ease and effectiveness, and will help you recover faster from muscle soreness.  It is imperative that you build your aerobic fitness so that you can keep up with the demands of your work when you return.

Use these options to help get your heart-rate up:

  • Go on brisk walk for 20-30 minutes at a time through your neighborhood
  • Own a bike?  Find a paved trail or bike lane and go for a ride.  Riding from 5-10mph is sufficient to keep you at a moderate activity level
  • If you have access to stairs, try a stair-climbing workout.  Be sure to take plenty of breaks!

Prepare Your Daily Routine

Being at home and off work can throw a wrench at your daily schedule.  Meal timing, daily activities, and sleep schedules can all be thrown off, and it is important to identify, and work on normalizing to make the transition back to work seamless.

Identify Your Weekly Work Schedule

What will your day-to-day look like when you return to work?  Specifically identify these aspects of your daily routine:

  • Sleep & wakeful periods - When do you need to get up for work?  When will you go to bed at night?
  • Meal/snack times – When do you eat during the day?  Likely before work, during your lunch break, and in the evening, with snacks at your discretion.
  • Active time – When are you physically active during the day?  This includes day-to-day work schedules, as well as recreational time that is spent before/after work, or on your days off.

Once you identify your weekly schedule, begin to work on normalizing to it,  the earlier the better!  Start with your sleep schedule.  Plan on going to bed on time, and limit habits such as late-night television, food/alcohol consumption, or other stimulating activities that would go against you falling asleep.  Once this has normalized, your meal times and active periods will be much easier to work on.

After You Return

Even with proper preparation, your body will still need to adapt to the demands of your daily work-life.  After a couple work-days, you may experience muscle soreness, as your body begins to accommodate to your job demands.  

Take these steps to address any aches and pains you find along the way:

  • Identify and stretch tight areas.  Stretch gently for 30 second periods of time, and 2-3 times per day.
  • Increase blood flow.  Getting your heart-rate up and increasing blood-flow to the area can speed up the rate of recovery.  Go on a brisk walk, or perform some gentle arm circles to increase your blood flow.
  • Consult with your Atlas IPS team.  We are here to help you!  If you don’t know the best way to resolve an issue, let us take the guess-work out and get you back to work as seamlessly as possible.