Re-acclimatize yourself and your clients to the gym or study environment
For the past 18 months, the world has experienced a COVID-19 infection, which has forced the health care industry, its experts, and our clients to serve emergency change. Essentially, the industry and its consumers have been urged to make almost immediate behavioral changes (which we know is not always a linear or rapid process). With the relaxation of the guidelines and the expiration of the mandates, we can now make conscious efforts to return to a “better normalcy.”
As we work toward change, we may again find ourselves (and our clients) challenged to re-acclimatize to a face-to-face environment. For many, this can lead to feelings of anxiety and noticeable worry. Let’s see how we can make this transition, for ourselves and our clients, pleasant and reassuring.
Acknowledging Pandemic (Pre and Post) Anxiety and Fear
By nature, humans are creatures of habit and we do not like uncertainty and interruption of routine. In part, this is why behavior change is difficult. Businesses closed and switched to delivery services, schools provided programming in multiple formats online, and gyms and studios had to close completely. While remote work and social distancing were necessary to interrupt the spread of COVID-19, research suggests that the prevalence of mental health problems has increased due to people being isolated for several months at a time. And unsurprisingly, the pandemic has sparked growing feelings of fear and anxiety. As we are heading towards a post-pandemic or reintegration into society and normal activities, it is important to recognize that fear and anxiety are not simply gone.
“People feel overwhelmed, insecure, anxious, helpless, frustrated, stressed and exhausted,” psychiatrist Lisa MacLean told the American Medical Association. It’s a long list of emotions and concerns that we and our clients experience.
While many people are ecstatic about losing the mask and returning to their social commitments, others remain concerned about the appearance of a return to normalcy. By recognizing the mental health impact that pandemic life has had on all of us, we can begin to normalize and accept them, and we can find other ways to cope and Re-acclimatize.
What You Can Do for Yourself and Your Clients
While there are many ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and the prospect of returning home, no two clients (or professionals) respond to these procedures in the same way. Treat each customer as unique and engage in conversations about one person, each of whom is thinking of returning to these changing environments.
Of course, it is important to extend this same grace to yourself and guide the “instinct” to return to a face-to-face experience. If you feel uncomfortable or unexpected, take the following steps to help reduce your stress and improve your chances of returning to the gym or facilities:
• Learn to take care of yourself often. Going back to “normal” can increase stress and anxiety, so take some time to pause and meditate.
• Discuss your concerns honestly so you can get back into the fold successfully. If you think it is not time to go back or you want to go back, but you prefer to ask customers to use a cover that is of their choice. Respect that choice.
• Watch out for contagious fatigue. Neutrality during important times is taxable, but back to other programs. Rest when needed, as you want a higher level of rest than during the holidays before this day.
• Learn to breathe or other meditation practices daily to help manage stress.
• Begin each day with a self-exam to assess how you are feeling and whether you are experiencing anxiety or stress.
• Talk to your clients.
• Continue to provide training options that will be necessary if that is the skill you want to hone.
• Stay up-to-date with infectious disease information (but don’t force it or get mad at yourself).
• Build your referral and support network. Make sure you have one or more different mental health professionals to consult with clients if necessary.
Most likely, many of your clients feel the same way when considering return and face-to-face training and/or tutorial options. The most important thing you can do is continue to support your clients on their medical journey. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
• Have honest conversations with your customers about their interests, concerns, and feelings about the return. Make sure to give customers the option of a new experience if they want to follow you but are afraid of returning to the human environment.
• Encourage your clients to take daily self-assessments to identify their feelings.
• Encourage self-care as part of your training and training plan.
• Provide time outside if your floor space allows (not too hot, not too cold).
• Continue to promote and participate in cleaning up your gym or studio.
• Standardize the use of insurance, if it is safe to do so, during the session if it provides additional comfort to clients.
• Know your clients with empathy and their whereabouts by acknowledging any feelings of anxiety or concern they may have.
• Start slowly. If clients are concerned, start by offering a short, face-to-face meeting once or twice a week, regardless of what tone you usually have in the first place, arranged before the disease spreads.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do during this transition is to continue to support your customers and prioritize their needs, and respect and honor yours. We are in this.