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Wyomingites are hesitant to return to work after COVID

Joseph Forscher discusses ways to combat anxiety in the workplace.
Joseph Forscher discusses ways to combat anxiety in the workplace.(Rachel Saurer)
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Wyoming saw federal unemployment benefits end in June, but studies show that many people have hesitancies about returning to work.

“Returning to work usually doesn’t give us so much anxiety,” said Joseph Forscher, a partner at Hansen and Associates Counseling Services. “But throw in the COVID situation and the unprecedented times that we’re in and part of the barriers are the unknown. So... ‘what’s it going to be like?’”

Counselors said that concerns for their own health and safety could be a factor in keeping them home. Laura Kietell, owner of Thrive Counseling, offered some suggestions. Among some of them were asking people experiencing anxiety about their health in the workplace to focus on what they could control.

“Remembering that what’s in your control is... I have a choice to wear a mask or not to wear a mask,” she said. “I have a choice to social distance or not. I have a choice to continue to wash my hands. All of that stuff is in your control.”

Forscher said that something people can do while they are in the workplace is to become aware of the anxiety which could give them a better opportunity to get out of it or change their mindset.

“If you’re back at work and you feel anxiety coming on, what does it feel like?” Forscher said. “Is it a physical sensation? That could include tense muscles, shortness of breath, increased heartbeat... become aware of that. Become of ways to disrupt that. A simple thing is just taking in a breath for a second and people might not even notice that you’re doing it, but it can really disrupt that whole escalation cycle.”

Lastly, Ty Stockton of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services said they can help those interested to take that first step and hop back on that work bicycle.

“The VR department, that is vocational rehabilitation,” Ty Stockton said. “They can help folks who have physical, mental, or emotional barriers to help them get over those barriers and land a productive, permanent job.”

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