Good Returns: How to survive going back to work


Are you heading back to the office after the summer of lockdown? If so, how do you feel? Anxious or excited, angry or weepy, in total denial – or all of the above?

Before returning to Good Spa Guide HQ, we had a word with workplace wellbeing expert Tom Oxley of Bamboo Mental Health. Having researched the impact of the pandemic on our wellbeing (pretty massive subject), Tom suggested that rather than sweep it all under the table and pretend everything is fine and normal, we acknowledge and share our feelings and experiences, good and bad.

“Suffering is always a part of our lives, but we don’t often talk about it,” Tom tells us. “We need to give space for difficult feelings as well as optimism. The important thing is not to go solo – there will be friends when you ask for help.”

Once we acknowledge how we really feel, we can focus on positivity and productivity.

“Keep hope, feel purpose and use work as part of your recovery,” Tom advises. “Where we don’t help ourselves is when we focus on the things we can’t control, instead of the things we can. Keep asking yourself – is what I am doing or thinking helping or harming me?”

He asked us what had helped us survive lockdown, what had been our favourite self-care rituals. (Luckily, as you will know if you have been reading our spa at home features, the Spa Spies have focused a lot on self-care throughout lockdown).

“All that self-care you used – going for walks in nature, taking time to recharge your batteries – if you continue practising these, you are giving yourself the best chance to get through,” Tom says. “Don’t just focus on wellbeing when you aren’t well – make it a day-to-day practice.”

With that in mind, we thought we’d prepare our own return-to-workplace rituals to help you keep calm and carry on.

For the commute

Some of us admitted missing our commutes to and from work, using it as a time to unwind. Others found it stressful. Either way, if you have a phone and ear-pods, there are so many ways to make your commute less stressful. Here are our top three:

Play your favourite artist/playlist on the way to work. According to the Global Wellness Summit, mood music is one of the biggest wellness trends. Whether your patron saint of empowerment is Beyoncé, Bowie or Ariana, a blast of someone else’s sass is always good for the soul (if on a train, you can mime singing along behind your facemask).

Use mood music. We’ve been trying a clever algorithm app, Endel, which creates personalised biometric soundscapes based on data (weather, time of day, location, your heart rate, circadian rhythm, steps), evolving throughout the day to enhance or adjust your mood. You can click on what you want to do – focus, sleep, get creative, meditate, work-out and so on. If you like ambient spa music, it’s super useful for blocking out annoying background sound, too.

Be inspired by a podcast. One of our lockdown favourites is How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, especially the recent interview with Gloria Steinem.

Spa moments at work

Managing your energy levels isn’t easy at the best of times, with stress, uncertainty and change adding to the mix. Take a deep breath, give yourself a hug and tell yourself, it’s all going to be okay. Here are some ways to grab a couple of moments of spa time throughout your day.

Ishga Sanitiser (30ml, £6). This is a gorgeously packaged and spa-scented, Soil Association approved organic hand sanitiser, with enough organic ethanol to break down virus, bacteria and fungus. It also contains antioxidant seaweed extracts, juniper, lemongrass, lavender and rose essential oils.  

Ilāpothecary Speak Your Truth Aroma Roller (10ml, £28). Hand-blended in a Cotswolds barn, these sandalwood, rose and uplifting vanilla essential oils are said to relieve anxiety. It’s popular, but we managed to locate a bottle on Net-a-Porter. Roll over your pulse points on your wrists and neck, and breathe deeply.

Comfort Zone Specialist Hand Oil (15ml, £18). For those of us whose cuticles and nails have become brittle from so much hand washing, this little bottle contains tamanu, sweet almond oil and shea butter. Give yourself a hand massage as a keyboard break: roll those shoulders and stretch your neck while you’re at it.

Bring the outside in

Walking and being in nature have been huge LD saviours for a lot of people. If you are stuck in an office block, there are other ways of getting your green fix. Get yourself a little desk cactus plus a water bottle to give it a little spritz now and again. Also, perch a little piece of art or a woodland photograph near your screen and allow your gaze to wander over to it every so often.

Book a twilight spa session

At the end of a long day, instead of crashing out in front of Netflix, why not book in for a restorative post-work spa evening. Slip into in a spa pool with a glass of something bubbly and let the tension float away. Most spas have very strict social distancing polieis, so you might even get the pool entirely to yourself. Find a local spa on our Spa Directory for current deals.

Stylish_Spa_Spy
  • Author

    Stylish Spy

  • Age 40-something
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching."

Spa Dislikes

"Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones."