NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – The days of getting up and logging into work may be changing for some of you. Companies are looking to welcome back employees into the office, some in phases and others experimenting with a hybrid model.

“I think for most of us we were pretty excited like oh gosh we are going to be able to work from home for a couple of weeks because we thought it was just a couple of weeks,” Traci Farrah said.

You could probably relate to Traci Farrah. She works for a Fortune 500 company and is now going back to the office three days a week.

“I personally like the blended option,” Farrah said. “I like being able to see folks a couple of days a week, have face-to-face if I need to, set up some of my meetings on those days, and then when I’m at home [I] have that quiet focus time.”

But getting out of a routine she was used to for over a year didn’t happen easily.

“Now there are other challenges that you’re back to, getting fully dressed, making breakfast and your lunch and you’re commute,” Farrah said. “It’s definitely different for sure, it’s just getting back into your routine.”

And Farrah’s not the only one starting a new routine.

Chantal Carter is a therapist and founder of NWA Therapy.

“I have seen an impact on people who have social anxiety because for the past year they’ve been pretty conservative with covid protocols,” Carter said.

We sat down with Carter to ask questions about how people returning to the office can keep their mental health in check.

Q: What can employers do to let workers know their mental health is important?

“Really promoting self care, really promoting emotional well being, allowing their staff to have the time to go to personal appointments,” Carter said.

Q: If I’m still working from home part-time, how can I keep a balanced routine?

“I would say treat working from home like your regular workday,” Carter said. “Respect those hours, take a lunch break, take the same breaks you would if you were in your office and end your day and start your day at the same time as if you were going into the office.”

Q: When should I consider getting help?

“When you start identifying, oh I’ve been feeling really irritable, I’ve been feeling more in doubt, I’ve been feeling more sad lately – get help,” Carter said. “Whether that means talking to a friend, reaching out to a professional rather than waiting until your overwhelmed with your mental health concerns.”

The CDC recommends if you are returning to the office, monitor your health.

If you feel sick, stay home.

Reach out to your employer and become familiar with its COVID -19 safety policy.

And if you’re unvaccinated, wear a mask in public spaces and practice physical distancing at work.

As far as our local companies, Walmart recently came out stating its goal is to have a majority of employees working at the campus headquarters after Labor Day.

For now, employees must reserve office space and undergo daily screenings before entering the office – a practice many other companies are also already implementing.