NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After millions of Americans dealt with weeks of working from home, furloughs and unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to work can come with anxiety and health concerns as restrictions begin to lift.
In Thursday’s Max Minute, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has tips from experts on making the transition as smooth and healthy as possible.
Evan Wilkerson’s commute to work looks a little different these days.
“Once I get to the office, I put on my mask as I walk into the building,” he said.
Wilkerson immediately takes his temperature upon arrival, sits at least six feet from his nearest co-worker and keeps sanitizer handy between frequent hand washings.
This new normal can be hard to grasp and it’s important not to let your guard down as restrictions lift, according to Dr. Gomez.
In fact, he says, things like virtual meetings should continue as people are phased back into the workplace.
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“Handshakes, things that we usually do to show physical support for one another, will also not be allowable,” said Dr. K. Luan Phan of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “So we’ll have to find new ways to connect in this new work environment.”
The fear of infection, combined with a lack of personal contact can be extremely stressful.
Plus, since physical and mental health are dependent on each other, it’s important to take care of both.
In addition to stress relief, being as prepared as possible to fight off serious illness is critical.
“We want our immune systems functioning at peak capacity,” said Bernadette Melnyk from Ohio State College of Nursing.
That means plenty of exercise, at least seven hours of sleep each night and a healthy diet.
It also means finding ways to calm fears and a sense of community.
Just as family and friends have found ways to support each other throughout this crisis, so will co-workers.
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“What we need to do now is to extend that culture of caring and of safety beyond our immediate family and friends circle into the workplace circle,” said Dr. Phan. “Because our colleagues are ultimately our family as well.”
Going back to work is going to be done in slow phases, to see what works and what doesn’t.
Dr. Gomez recommends asking your boss about what’s being done to keep you safe.
It’s more important than ever to stay home if you’re feeling sick to reduce everyone’s risk of infection.