Extended unemployment can make going back to work feel like diving into icy cold water -- it can be a shock. But if you stick in one toe at a time, you'll get acclimated much sooner.
While you're getting your feet wet, make sure that you understand what you're getting yourself into. "Try to get a clear picture from your boss, before you start, of expectations for the first week, month and quarter. This way you can pace yourself right from the start," explains Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart.
Splash around a little to explore your surroundings. "Once you're back to work, don't be afraid to ask questions," says Caitlin Day, education and outreach manager at Career Wardrobe. "Your co-workers and supervisors were new once too, and should be able to offer you tips on how to fit into your new environment as well as answer questions about your role." It's expected that you rely on co-workers to help you understand the new position, so take advantage of their expertise.
Allow yourself time to focus on your new position without getting distracted by outside factors. Michael Timmes, HR specialist at Insperity, suggests that you "reach out to family and friends to let them know that your schedule is changing and that you may not be as accessible as you were when you were unemployed. Most people will understand that you're busy getting to know your new job and will afford you some extra space."
Timmes makes another great point: Be proud of yourself.
“You found a new job, which is great. Be sure to recognize and celebrate your achievement.” It’s completely acceptable to ease your way back to work, rather than taking the plunge all at once.