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Returning to work in-person in today’s world may almost feel foreign and new. You may have gotten used to attending meetings virtually from your living room, doing research in your pajamas, and napping on the fly. Consequently, just the thought of going back to “normal” stresses you out in a very abnormal way.

As you transition back to in-person settings, it’s crucial that you bring back some healthy, pre-pandemic habits, along with new ones you’ve adopted as you’ve managed the virtual workplace. Here are some healthy habits to keep in mind for a smooth return to work.

Dress up

While this might be good news to those who indulged in online shopping during quarantine, others might be reluctant to give up their pajamas just yet. But it’s worth it: studies show that the way a person dresses correlates with their emotional state. In other words, you feel similar to the way you look. Putting on nice, clean clothes can lead to more productivity and positivity in your day; not to mention that the garments sitting in your closet this past year will finally see use.

Decorate your workspace

Similar to dressing up, having a clean, personalized workspace can also boost your mood and increase work productivity. Simple decorations such as photos of family and friends will give your workspace a familiarity and comfort that can help decrease emotional exhaustion during hard days. Additionally, adding a personal touch to your workspace may also spark conversation with your colleagues. You might find that you share a common interest, or that you’ve vacationed in the same place. Whatever it is, it may help build relationships and become closer to the people around you.

Pack a lunch

Whether this is a habit you practiced pre-COVID-19 or not, it comes with many benefits. Packing a lunch not only saves you time and money; it can also help you make healthier choices when it comes to your meals. Plus, by not eating lunch at home, you’ll find that you’re less tempted to snack around and avoid eating regular meals.

Also, remember to keep a water bottle handy. Staying hydrated throughout the day will have a positive effect on your mood and energy.

Structure a routine

Working from home caused many individuals to lose any type of routine or structure they had before the pandemic. Even for the people who have a fixed work schedule, being at home has made it hard to concentrate on work, as distractions are more common. Others have completely disrupted their sleeping patterns, and now find it hard to go to bed at a reasonable time. Because of this, it’s important to implement a routine as you transition to your work’s “new normal.” Having some type of structure in your day can give you an increased sense of control and reduce stress and anxiety.

Stay clean

Even if you weren’t the type to always have hand sanitizer in your bag, taking on this habit as you go back to work certainly won’t hurt. Throughout this past year and a half, cleaning awareness has increased significantly, along with consciousness of how easily germs and diseases can spread. And, even with California having vaccinated over half its population, keeping your hands and workspace clean is certainly a good practice to carry over to the future.

Prioritize self-care

Even within your busy schedule, it’s important to give yourself an open slot in your calendar. With the changes and stress brought on by going back to the workplace, it’s easy to forget to make time for yourself. Make sure you’re taking a break from common workplace and life stressors and finding the time to go on a walk, FaceTime a friend, read a book, or whatever you enjoy doing in your free time.

Plus, practicing self-care can also improve your work performance: Taking care of yourself will give you the energy and capacity to give more to others. Therefore, making time for yourself will not only help you avoid burnout, it will also make you a more productive, and overall happy, person.

If you are an education, municipal, or public agency employee, California Schools VEBA is here to help you, offering accessible health care and well-being resources for members through the VEBA Resource Center. To find out if you are a member of California Schools VEBA please contact VEBA at or at 888.276.0250.

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