Returning to work after a long period of absence due to an accident or injury can be a daunting prospect.
There may be several reasons why you initially feel reluctant to step back into the workplace. You do not need to be worry-free to start thinking about continuing your career, but you do need to consider any decision before you make it carefully.
Getting back into work could be one of the critical goals you set yourself on the road to recovery and is often a significant step towards improving your mental wellbeing. Studies show links between returning to a productive lifestyle and a decrease in the possibility of developing any ongoing psychological effects.
The key is to listen to your body and find the right balance between work and recovery, without overdoing it.
With this in mind, here are some useful tips when considering a return to work:
Return at your own pace
Returning to work prematurely can put the brakes on your recovery, so it is crucial to explore all available options. A phased return to work will allow you to ease your way back into the process and steadily build towards the routine of a full working schedule.
Working flexible hours can also provide additional time to rest and recuperate when needed, keeping stress and anxiety levels down whilst also enabling you to attend any rehabilitation programmes or doctors’ appointments.
Get back into old routines
Getting into the habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time as you would on a working day can take time. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice your daily routine well in advance of returning to work. This will help prepare your body clock and keep energy levels up throughout the day.
Keep your employer updated
Keeping your employer as up to date with your recovery as possible will help them make suitable adjustments ready for your return. It will also show them you are still just as committed and dedicated to your work as you were before your absence. Only by communicating with them will they be able to decide what measures to put in place to help you feel comfortable in the workplace.
Take care of yourself
It can be easy to develop high levels of stress when first returning to work fulltime, and it can be easy to take on too much.
But looking after your mental wellbeing is crucial when recovering from injury and having regular breaks and consistent communication with your employer will help prevent burnout. When discussing flexibility in your work schedule with your employer, remind them that this is part of your recovery, and it will help bring you back to being 100%, sooner.
Before returning to work, seek the advice of healthcare professionals.
Your GP can provide you with a Fit Note, and some employers may request medical proof you are ready to return. They will be able to give you advice about the side effects some medications can have, such as increased fatigue or mood swings. You can also apply for government schemes such as Access to work that can support with the cost of purchasing specialist equipment or taxi’s when public transport is not an option.
If you feel like your employer is not giving you the support that you are entitled to, you should read about your rights.
For external financial support, check out our up-to-date guide on grants and schemes.