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5 tips for returning to work after injury

Monday, Feb. 20, 2023
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Returning to work after time off due to an injury or illness can be challenging. Oftentimes there are many psychological and social factors that can prevent us from successfully returning to work even when we feel physically ready.   

How to recognize some challenges that may affect successful return to work: 

  • Negative thinking patterns. You may have worries about letting your employer down, thoughts about not being able to complete your work to the same standard as before, or concerns regarding not meeting productivity expectations.  

  • Feeling down, depressed, anxious, and irritable. You may feel anxious about returning to work due to fears of re-injury. Feeling down or depressed can make it challenging to stay motivated to complete work activities. Feelings of frustration and irritability can make it difficult to manage stress.  

  • Unpredictable changes in your health. Recovery does not follow a straightforward path. You may feel energetic and ready to take on challenges on some days, while others may feel like you are back at the beginning stages of recovery. Fluctuating changes in your health can limit your ability to commit to returning to work.  

  • Job demands that exceed your capacity. After returning to work following an illness or injury, some tasks and responsibilities feel like they have requirements beyond our abilities as compared to prior to the injury. If the requirements of your job are beyond your abilities, you will likely experience challenges.   

5 tips to returning to work after injury: 

  1. Talk with your employer. Employers may be able provide accommodations such as modifying work schedules and responsibilities. These accommodations can be helpful and are designed to meet people where they’re at in their recovery.  

  1. Manage your stress. Engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation and grounding exercises, physical activity, progressive muscle relaxation, or deep breathing, can help you manage your work-life balance  

  1. Be patient with yourself. Getting back into the swing of work can take time and everyone heals at their own pace. It’s important to let your body heal at the rate it needs to prevent further delays in returning to work. If you find yourself having negative attitudes about your return to work, ask yourself “how would I talk to a friend if they were in my situation”?  

  1. Focus on your progress: Celebrate your daily achievements during your healing journey  

  1. Stay connected with your coworkers and loved ones. Staying connected with friends, family, and coworkers can provide you with important emotional support throughout the healing process.  


Returning to work following an injury or illness can be hard. However, with the right strategies and supports in place, you can transition to work successfully and even find joy and purpose in employment again.  

From psychologists to occupational therapists, learn more how our mental health professionals can help you get back to life again here. Check out our locations page to find a clinic near you, or call us at 1.855.485.1344 to schedule an appointment today. 


This blog was written by Claire Perry, an occupational therapy student.

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