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Returning to Work

Building Capacity for Return to Work

Updated Aug 1, 2019

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How Will I Know When I’m Ready?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of, “Am I ready to go back to work?” However, there are a couple of key criteria to keep in mind when deciding if you are ready.

If you decide you aren’t quite ready, there are also some great strategies for building toward work! In addition to the following slides, consider revisiting the Gradual Return to Activities section for more information.


Can I Currently Manage My Non-work Demands?

The best indicator of whether you are ready to start a gradual return to work is to ask yourself, “Can I do my necessary daily responsibilities and still have energy left over?” For example, can you get yourself ready in the morning, do some housework, run an errand or two, maintain wellness activities like exercise, and feel like you can still take on more?

To be ready, you should feel quite confident you can maintain these crucial activities with the extra demand of work.

Can I currently manage environmental demands?

Another indicator of whether you are ready to gradually return to work is to ask yourself, “Can I handle the environmental demands of my work?” For example, maybe your workplace is loud and busy with bright lighting. Try spending increasing time on your laptop in a coffee shop to see how you feel in a similar environment.

We typically recommend that you consider starting a gradual return to work once you have the capacity to work a four-hour shift (with breaks and accommodations!).

If you are not sure how to build your stamina further, consider activities that challenge you in the way that your work might. Building up your social activities and exercise are a great way to increase the challenge of your daily routines with meaningful activities.

Taking Action! (Option 1)

You may want to sign up for an online course to prepare for work - several websites offer courses for free! Online courses give you a chance to practice your self-management strategies to build your screen tolerance and manage increased thinking demands.

There are courses available on every possible topic, from Animation to Zoology. Explore your options via the links below.

Take action

Taking Action! (Option 2)

You can also build your activity level by volunteering. There are many volunteer opportunities available, so choose an activity you like and an organization that matters to you. Some volunteer roles only require a few hours on one day (e.g., helping at a charity event), while others involve an ongoing time commitment (e.g., mentoring a youth). Think about what you can realistically manage. The goal is to set yourself up for success!

Check out these links below for openings.

Take action
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