Publish date: 15 April 2021

As the gradual easing of lockdown brings longed-for opportunities - even if at a social distance – to see friends, play sports, resume contact with family in real space, or get back to work that we value.

For many of us, even the happy, much anticipated changes and re-adjustment can be difficult for our mental health.

For others the prospect of coming out of lockdown when debate is still live about the science supporting it can be a real worry. This may especially apply to those more vulnerable to the virus and those of us with mental health concerns.

What are the mental health challenges, and what can we do?

We should be prepared for the fact that the end of lockdown might be as hard for us as the start was.

Just as it took us time to find ways of coping during lockdown, we should also expect that it will take time to find our way back, and to reconnect with life.  Things may not be the same as they were before.

Finding routines, staying connected, eating well, and taking exercise apply just as much now as they did at the start of lockdown – arguably even more so as we remain in a period of high stress but with more demands on us.

Our situations are unique to us, it is really important to try not to judge ourselves harshly based on what other people are doing. Everybody is facing uncertainty and challenge – and we have no choice but to move through it as best we can with our own coping mechanisms.

As we move out of lockdown it’s going to be possible to start picking up our social lives again – albeit with changes for the foreseeable future. Some of us are desperate to do so – but others will be nervous about doing so and going back into pubs and restaurants – or unable to do so because of their situations.

We may have become comfortable in our own space and with our own company in lockdown – it’s been intense in all sorts of ways and we might really have to push ourselves to reconnect with people and overcome initial awkwardness. Whether it’s knowing how to insist on social distancing with friends or relatives, knowing where you have to wear a mask, or feeling odd not stopping to chat in the street many of us are keen to get it right, and worried about slipping up. It’s all new – and doing your best to follow the rules is good enough for most situations.

Returning to the gym after lockdown

Don’t expect to be at the same fitness level you were before. It’s likely that your strength and stamina will have dropped during lockdown- use it or lose it, is definitely true when it comes to fitness! Keep in mind that you’ve probably been limited in terms of what you can do at home and so haven’t used much equipment or had access to heavy weights for several months in some case. You will have to build your strength back up gradually. There is no point in pushing your body too much too soon, as you will risk injuries. Your body will need time to re-adjust, so start off by using lower weights than you normally would and planning for more rest time between sets. If you like to use the cardiovascular machines, you may find that you struggle to work at your previous intensities or duration than you did before, so again, reduce the intensity and gradually build back up.

The good news is that you’ll regain your strength and stamina quicker than it took for you to reach that level in the first place thanks to a little something called muscle memory.

Eat well and keep hydrated

Eating well and being adequately hydrated will help you perform to your best in the gym and also help your recovery between sessions. There’s some good advice from the NHS website here. Don’t forget about good sleeping habits too, as this will also help.

Health and Wellbeing Centre

Our Hollins Park Health And Wellbeing Centre is a free facility which is available for you to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week following induction.

Wellbeing and lifestyle coaches

Our wellbeing and lifestyle coaches are available with a variety of ways to support you which also includes their mental fitness sessions which addresses mood, depression, and anxiety. Email to find out more.

If you would like to suggest any topics for us to cover in our weekly Wellbeing Wednesday messages, please email