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The return to the office setting can be intimidating for people with mental illnesses, especially social anxiety, imposter syndrome, and depression. We tend to feel bogged down by over-thinking even the smallest interactions or lack the energy to push through the day’s work. However, if you want to know how to be a great coworker in the office despite the roadblocks of mental illness, focusing on these areas of your work will ensure that your team appreciates you.


Being realistic with yourself and your coworkers about the amount of work you can handle each day will reduce stress for everyone involved. While you should still aim for given metrics and try to do better every day, be kind to yourself when it comes to falling a little short. You are human, and you are allowed to have days that are less productive than others. Admitting to struggling is difficult, but honesty with yourself, your leads, and the team members who rely on you will help everyone involved. 


Engaging with peers when you struggle with self-doubt or anxiety can be one of the biggest challenges for people with mental illnesses as they return to the office. It can be difficult to set aside fears and start the conversation, but reminding yourself that your teammates are your equals, that they have the same goals in working that you do and that they need your help to accomplish the company’s mission can help you over that hill. Choosing to participate when you’re able and contribute to meetings and brainstorming sessions only strengthens your relationship with your team.


Moving to an office setting after finishing academia or leaving remote work is a test of patience for many. The best way to be a great coworker in the office is to be patient with yourself and those around you. Progress is never instant, so celebrate it when it happens! Your team will notice the effort you put in and appreciate it, so you don’t need to push yourself so hard that you break. Finishing only top-priority tasks for the day will be better than burning out and getting nothing done at all. If you aren’t moving at a pace you find acceptable, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from those who can guide you toward achieving your goals.


Another easy way to ease the transition into an office setting is to address any anxiety over your presentation. Wearing clothes that you feel both comfortable and confident in will help get you through the day. How you organize your office, from displaying your accolades to maintaining your paperwork, is another area where you can control how your team perceives you.

You may need to argue with yourself some days, but any time you find yourself stuck in self-consciousness, remind yourself that you are part of the team. Honesty, effort, and patience will all make you an asset at work.

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