Settling back into nine-to-five grind after medical leave is difficult for anyone, but it may be especially challenging for Boomers. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make it easier! Here are 10 helpful tips on returning to work after illness.
1. Suit up and show up.
Oftentimes, starting is the hardest part. You may feel like there’s no way you can get back into the flow of your work routine, especially if you’ve just faced an illness. The good news is, you’re stronger than you think. When faced with challenges, human beings have the tendency to rise to the occasion. So, suit up and show up. From one Boomer to another—you’ve got this!
2. Ask for help when you need it.
A lot of Boomers are stubborn. We’ve been on this Earth for longer than most of our coworkers, and we think our way is the right way. Yes, Boomers often don’t want to ask for help. However, if you’re returning to work after a serious illness, you might need an extra set of helping hands. So, don’t let pride hold you back. Ask for help when you need it. There’s absolutely no shame in that.
3. Pace yourself.
Chances are, if you’ve been on medical leave, you’re not going to be able to work at the same pace you did previously. And guess what? That’s perfectly okay! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pacing yourself and slowly working your way back to where you used to be. So, work your hardest but don’t be afraid to slow down.
Related: 10 Self-Care Tips for Boomers
4. Take small breaks.
Maybe in years or months prior, you were the sort of person who scoffed at the idea of taking a break. Perhaps you were so dedicated to your work that you ate your lunch in your cubicle and typed up notes between bites of salad. However, after you’ve dealt with a serious illness, it’s important to be kinder to your body. And sometimes, kindness means taking more frequent breaks. Step away from your computer screen. Close out of your word processor and give yourself a brain break. Your mind and your body will thank you.
5. Be honest.
After all, honesty is the best policy. Be honest with both others and yourself. If there are days when you’re struggling, admit that. Don’t flounder in silence or ignore reality. Admitting weakness is strength.
6. Take a walk at lunchtime.
Exercise is good for both the body and mind! As a matter of fact, studies show that exercise actually reduces anxiety and depression. If the sun is shining outside your office building, take the opportunity to go and commune with nature. Walk a few laps around the parking lot. Maybe find a nice place in the grass and settle in for a little picnic.
Read Next: How to Start a Walking Program and Stay Motivated
7. Eliminate stress.
Stress has many negative side effects—including insomnia, headaches, and muscle pain (according to WebMD). Chances are, if you’ve just recovered from a serious illness, you don’t want to deal with any unpleasant aches or pains. Remove stressors from your life. If there’s a coworker who raises your blood pressure, avoid them. Practice self-care. Leave work at the office when you clock out. Don’t make your life more difficult than it has to be!
8. Talk to a trusted coworker.
If you’re struggling, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell somebody. Ask for their assistance. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts or feelings. After all, nobody should have to go through trials alone! Clue a trusted coworker in on your struggles and let them help when you just can’t shoulder all your burdens alone. After all, no man or woman is an island!
9. Be kind to yourself.
This goes out to all my perfectionists and overachievers. I know you want to plunge right back into your work and push yourself beyond your limits. You want to accomplish as much as you can in eight hours. However, if there are times when your body can’t keep up with your brain, don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human. Take each day one at a time. Slow down when necessary and don’t label yourself a failure.
10. Celebrate the small victories.
If you woke up today, smile. If you made it through eight hours of work, pat your back. Every day that you get up and go to work, no matter how hard you struggle while you’re there, is a victory. Don’t live in failure. Instead, celebrate every victory, both big and small. And remember—it takes time for your body, mind, and spirit to heal after any major trauma or major surgery. Listen to the body and be gentle.
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Robert FowlerContributing Writer
Robert Fowler is a retired blogger who lives with his wife, Mary Ann at Village at Deaton Creek, a Del Webb Community in North Georgia. Robert was previously the President of Retirement Media Inc. He has visited numerous 55+ Active Adult Communities over the years, sharing his experiences along the way with readers. View more posts