Going back to work soon? Maybe it’s been a while since you were at work due to medical, parental or personal leave. You might be feeling nervous and a bit unsure about how things will go. Maybe you’re excited. All of these feelings are normal.

To help your return to work be successful, consider some of these tips:

  1. Go to bed earlier the night prior to your first day at work. You will need as much sleep as you can get. Even if your nerves keep you up at night, don’t worry because even just lying in bed is bringing some rest to your body.
  2. Prepare your meal to bring to work the night before.
  3. Plan to get to work early. Give yourself time to settle in before you start your shift.
  4. Pace yourself during your job! There is no need to rush. If your doctor and/or your employer has given you accommodations, such as breaks, use them as needed. Don’t try to push yourself through the pain or fatigue. Breathe and stretch.
  5. During your break, stretch and do some deep breathing exercises. If you are feeling tired, try not to scroll on your phone. If you can, close your eyes for 5 minutes, to help rejuvenate yourself.
  6. At the end of your shift, before you drive home, take 5 minutes in your car to relax, close your eyes or practice deep breathing exercises. Once that is done, and you feel ready, you can drive home safely.
  7. If you feel tired or more sore than usual after your first day at work, that’s normal. As you continue your progressive return-to-work, your body will adapt, and you will feel less tired and sore.
  8. Be patient with yourself. If your return to work is not progressing as fast as you thought it would be, that’s okay. Maybe this is a moment to re-analyze how you do your tasks or learn.
  9. Remember, it might go better than you expect! Remember that you’ve been preparing for this day with your therapist, and you are more prepared than you realize.

What if people ask why you were gone? 

It’s up to you if you want to tell them, but it’s not necessary. Not sure what to say? Prepare a script beforehand so that you can easily respond when they ask without hesitation. You are free to tell them how much or how little you want to tell them. You can practice this conversation through role-playing with your therapist or someone at home.

What if my colleagues or supervisor ask me to do something that my doctor told me I shouldn’t do? 

If you are on a progressive return-to-work plan following a medical leave, you can state that you are on a progressive return-to-work and must follow what the doctor prescribed.

During all of this, your therapists are here to support you. After your first day of work, you can debrief with your occupational therapist or physiotherapist about the day. If you encounter any difficulties at work, whether with your job tasks or pain management, discuss with your therapists, and they will help you problem-solve to achieve success at work!