Seeking treatment for a mental health condition can provide stability, healing, hope and the tools needed to pursue long-term recovery. None of that means that the problem goes away overnight, or that new challenges will not present themselves. In fact, returning to daily living after mental health treatment can present a completely new set of complications—including questions about when or how to return to work.
The problem may be something as simple as awkwardness: You may just wonder how to address the topic with your co-workers, or whether you should address it at all. For others, awkwardness can be something far more serious, or even debilitating. Regardless, there are some practical steps that can make the transition back to work just a bit easier:
- Remember that recovery is not something you can do on your own. Stay connected to mental health professionals, attending your therapy sessions and support group meetings regularly. Draw strength from these support structures, and voice any concerns you have about the return to work.
- Stay positive! Yes, going back to work will bring some challenges. It will also bring new goals, new chances to connect with people, and opportunities to put your recovery skills to use—and to realize just how far you have come.
- Do not neglect self-care. Even if your professional life is busy, make time for eight hours of sleep each night. Make it to the gym regularly. Pack lunches that have real nutrients—proteins, vegetables, and fruits.
- Set boundaries. Keep personal details confidential if that is what you want to do. Do not feel obligated to speak openly or to answer probing questions from co-workers. (Generally, though, co-workers will be respectful and take cues from you: If you do not bring it up, you may not get many questions about it).
Follow these tips and hopefully the return to work will be smoother—and less daunting.
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