As well as looking to employers to offer some practice support, there are a number of things that individual returners can do. empowher.com offers a number of tips for individuals who are returning to work following a period of absence due to a mental health condition. I think we can apply these 6 tips to a range of illnesses:
1. Seek out help from professionals
It’s important that the individual doesn’t try and re-enter the workplace alone; without the support of HR colleagues and other experts. You may be taking medication which could impact your performance or requires a routine. Share this with colleagues as this can help to elevate the stress of covering.
2. Take care of yourself
There are multiple ways to accomplish this including taking control of your work load; getting enough sleep at night; ensuring you are eating the right foods; taking regular exercise and balancing work and life goals.
3. Setting the boundaries
How much you wish to share with colleagues when you return back to work is up to you. You are the one who sets the boundaries. Deciding on these before you return will help you to feel more in control.
4. Talk to your boss and colleagues
Talk to your boss and colleagues about the limits of what you can do and what you can’t do. These may change over time, but setting limits and expectations early helps to establish boundaries which in turn reduces stress levels and stigma.
5. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
It’s important to balance work and your health from the start. Set yourself some rules. Make sure that you factor in enough personal and family time to prevent a work-life imbalance, which could trigger a future health issue.
6. Don’t be afraid to take time off when you need to in the future
Always bear in mind that taking time off work to maintain a healthy mind and body is essential to being productive at work. Taking a break from work doesn’t mean that you’re weak or a bad employee, it means you’re in now in control.