As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, I can hear the sound of a distant Aperol Spritz calling my name… oh, and the unfortunate call of my office. Ah yeah, that. Packing a lunch, trudging to the station as my lower back twinges from the weight of my shoulder bag bearing a laptop and an ill-fitting tub of salad. I must say, I haven’t missed those aspects of reality at all.

But if, to get to the sunnier spritz-filled days we’re yearning for, we must bear the brunt of a brutal mid-winter return to work, let’s at least make it the best return to work we’ve ever had. I’m already picturing the matching power blazer and Keep Cup combo I’ll wear as I strut down the street on my first day back; dreaming of perhaps using this fresh start as a chance to not be such a garbage person. Instead of dwelling on the downsides, I’m going to embrace everything I have missed about being a working woman. 

So, how do we prepare for the most badass return to work we’ve ever had? Here are my top 5 tips on bouncing back:

1. Start getting up at work time

Annoying sleep fact: it’s easier to get up early when you do it everyday. We all know it, but will most of us still sleep in until our work-from-home 8.55am alarm right up until the very last day we have to? Probs. Do future you a favour, and start gradually winding back your wakeup, so that you’re on reality time before you even go back. It’ll make that early start way less painful.

2. Live the day as though you’re at work

Go one step further in preparing your body and mind for the return to work by living a day as though it’s a day at the office. Get up, shower, get fully dressed, do your hair, have breakfast, pack a lunch, pack your bag, and even put on shoes and go out the door. Of course, you’ll have to turn around and come right back pretty sharpish. But you’ll still benefit from reactivating your memory of doing all those morning tasks that you’ve fallen out of the habit of recently.

3. Change up your eating patterns

I think I speak on behalf of all of when I say, isolation hasn’t been all that kind on our wallets or our waistlines. The constant craving for takeaway justified by the fact you’re supporting small businesses has seen Uber Eats apps working overtime. Start sharpening up your food routine in advance, by eating 3 meals a day at times when you would normally eat at the office. Do everything you can to make it as easy and low-effort as possible to return to work.

I’ll also be stocking up on my desk drawer weapons of quick, non-perishable snacks and lunches like I used to, to make sure I’m covered if I forget (read: can’t be bothered) to prepare lunch the night before. It saves me a fortune in not having to get last minute order-in food, and keeps me more organised. Featuring in my emergency drawer this round will be the new Heinz Plant Proteinz soups, that have 15g of plant protein and keep me satisfied and not reaching for the food delivery apps! My absolute favourites are the Corn & Black Bean and Creamy Coconut Pumpkin Chickpea – have with warm toast for dipping for the perfect lazy winter office lunch on a budget!

Heinz Plant Proteinz soups come in 6 tasty flavours and are available at Woolworths and select IGA stores.

4. Start budgeting like everything’s normal

A week or two before you go back, start budgeting like everything’s normal. Petrol, public transport, any resources you buy for work or during work, perhaps account for a couple of coffee meetings, etc – put those amounts into a buffer savings account instead of actually paying for them. That way, you can start the first week back with a little extra money as a buffer, and you’ll be well-rehearsed for the financial reality of being back at work. 

5. Plan your ideal first week back

A lot of back-to-reality stuff is all about mindset. We’re conditioned to groan at the thought of going into work, when really we can make it a super positive experience. Get into the mindset of your first week back going really well. Write it out. What would happen? What would you wear, what would you eat, what will you say to your coworkers when you spot them peeping out from behind their screen? Imagine the trains being bang on time, your local café being so stoked to see you back, your badass outfit getting you a compliment from a stranger. Plan out that perfect week and watch how much more positive you feel about getting back into it. 

This post was sponsored by Kraft Heinz as part of their Plant Proteinz soups launch campaign. All opinions my own.

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5 tips for easing back into a work routine