The current situation we are living in is a bit chaotic (to say the least), which is having a huge impact on people’s mental health. You may have gone from no social contact whatsoever in lockdown, to suddenly being on campus with lots of people – this is bound to be a bit of a shock to the system. Allow yourself time to adjust and remember that other people will definitely be feeling the same way. Some students may be starting new jobs or going back to previous jobs having had a huge break. Here are some tips on coping with going to work when you may be feeling more anxious or stressed than usual:
Get a friend to walk with you to your shifts
If you’re feeling nervous, having someone to chat to on the way to work will help to calm your nerves. Be as early as you like, then they can always wait with you outside before you go in – the fresh air may help to calm you down also. Alternatively, ring someone up as you’re walking to distract you.
Give your manager/colleagues a heads up
“By the way I’m feeling a bit anxious today, so I may need to take 5 minutes to calm down” – that is much easier for them to understand, than if you just randomly disappear from a shift. It will also make you feel much calmer knowing that they are aware. Or, send them an email beforehand if you’d feel more comfortable. If you get upset in front of people, don’t worry, most people have had a cry in the break room before (trust me)!
When you’re feeling anxious or nervous, you can feel guilty for asking lots of questions and wanting to double check things – but you should not feel bad! Ask away! Remember that the people you’re working with have also been new before and they didn’t arrive knowing everything already. Whether you’re new to the job or not, you are bound to have lots of questions, especially with all the new COVID rules in place.
Be organised and prepared
Visit the place you will be working beforehand (if you can) – check how long it takes you to walk there, find out what you will need (do you have to wear a mask? Do you need to bring your own hand sanitiser?). Have all the things you need ready the night before your shift to save you being in a mad rush 10 mins before you need to be there!
Make sure you know when your shifts are and make yourself a weekly schedule that you can have on your phone or somewhere easily visible in your room so that you don’t forget anything.
Getting the right work life balance
Make sure you are getting the balance right between work, study and social time. Give yourself enough time to relax, as well as seeing some friends (even if it is 2 metres apart). Societies are doing lots of online events that you can try – just have a look at the RUSU page or their social media pages.
Make sure you still give yourself breaks when working from home. Getting dressed and sitting at a desk or table will make you feel much more productive. Also, you don’t need to be constantly contactable, when you are not supposed to be working. You need to be able to switch off from work.
Zoom/Teams calls can sometimes be more intimidating than real life meetings. Try doing a practise call with a friend so you know your equipment works. Make yourself and your background presentable. You could also try having something to scribble on or do with your hands – even if it’s just a cup of tea to drink – as long as it isn’t distracting.
Most importantly, you need to put yourself and your mental health first. If you need some support, look at the links below:
Written by Lucy Harwood, Campus Jobs Help Desk Assistant