Returning to work after a medical leave can be challenging for many people. It is normal to have some difficulties in making this transition. It is common to have both physical and emotional symptoms during this process. Below are some things to consider as you plan your return to work. Thinking about these things ahead of time may help you return to work smoothly. Some suggestions may not apply to your situation.
Prior to Returning to Work
Consider these coping skills to deal with stress.
Get support from others.
- Talk to people who you trust about your frustrations, feelings and concerns.
- Inform them that you simply need them to listen. Merely being heard can help.
- Talk to people who share your illness/condition. This can help you gain information and support.
Monitor your mood.
- •Monitor your ability to take pleasure in your usual interests and hobbies. Are you generally losing interest in these things?
- Recognize your mood, especially feelings down in the dumps/blue/depressed.
- Watch for symptoms of fatigue.
- Report these symptoms to your primary care doctor.
Watch for worries and anxiety.
- Recognize feelings of nervousness about returning to work. Does this nervousness keep you from doing your usual activities?
- Identify whether you are concerned about what others think of you when you return to work.
Are you embarrassed or ashamed about your absence? Sometimes merely identifying your thoughts and worries can reduce their severity.
Monitor your thoughts.
- Practice positive, logical self-talk.
- Watch for negative thoughts about yourself, your condition and others.
- Being positive attracts others to you and impacts the way you feel.
Assess your physical pain and symptoms.
- Watch for the impact that physical pain may have on you.
- For instance, does it make you more irritable or moody?
- Think about things that may make it easier for you.
Educate yourself about your illness and treatment options.
- Do you understand your physician orders?
- Does your physician have any concerns about your return to work?
- Do you understand your medication regimen?
- Are you following through with your doctors orders?
Are you worried about your long term health? If so, try to identify the specific concerns. This might lead you to practical solutions.
Monitor your sleep pattern. Do you sleep more or less than eight hours? If so, share this information with your physician.
Have your gained weight or had changes in your appetite?
Get organized. Keep a file on all your insurance claims, dates, payments received and payments you have made.
After Your Return to Work
Continue to consider the previous suggestions even after you return to work.
Enlist the support of co-workers whom you trust.
Consider what to say to co-workers when you return.
- Rehearse these comments beforehand.
- You are not required to disclose details about your health condition.
- You may want to consider the following examples:
- “I had some medical procedures done.”
- “I was out on doctor’s orders.”
- “I had some health issues that I had to take care of.”
- "I had a medical condition that was being looked at.”
If possible, enlist the support of your supervisor.
Prepare for your discussion with your supervisor by making a list ahead of your conversation. Remember to ask or discuss the following questions:
- What changes have occurred while you were out?
- Have there been any staff changes?
- Are there any new job assignments or expectations for your job?
- Are there any new policies or procedures that you should know?
- Discuss any considerations you may need to return to work.
For more information and assistance with returning to work following an illness or injury, contact the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office, Telephone: (734) 936-8660 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org