Heading back to the gym after a long hiatus can be seriously scary. Whether it鈥檚 because of an injury, illness, pregnancy or a busy few months at work, sometimes the fear of the challenges that come along with getting back on the fitness bandwagon is enough to discourage us from doing it altogether.

In a total 鈥渃elebs are just like us鈥 move, Blake Lively posted this hilarious photo of herself hiding from her trainer, Don Saladino. While she鈥檚 been known to occasionally say a controversial thing or two, what she said about her back-to-the gym-jitters is anything but divisive. In her caption, Blake wrote 鈥#FitnessFriday current mood. @donsaladino gives me reason to hide!鈥︹ Looks like she鈥檚 heading back to the gym after giving birth to baby #2, and she鈥檚 understandably anxious about getting back to an undoubtedly intense routine.

Before having her second daughter (whose name is still being kept private by her parents), Blake got in crazy-good shape to film The Shallows, a movie that required her to be extremely active. Because of this, we know she鈥檚 no stranger to intense workouts. So if even seasoned gym-goers sometimes get nervous before a big workout or going back to the gym after a break, that means it鈥檚 probably pretty normal when it happens to the rest of us, right? To find out, we talked to Dr. Kristen Dieffenbach, who has a PhD in exercise science and specializes in sports psychology. Kristen really knows her stuff and is an executive board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology to boot. Here鈥檚 what she filled us in on about gym-related anxiety.

1. It鈥檚 totally normal. Returning to any activity after some time off can be nerve-wracking, whether it鈥檚 fitness-related or not. 鈥淭hink back to the end of summer and heading back to school,鈥 says Kristen. 鈥淭hat first day was full of anxiety for many people. The combination of anticipation, uncertainty and worry raised butterflies going in all directions.鈥 Yup, we remember that feeling well. According to Kristen, the main reasons people get nervous before going back to the gym are that they鈥檙e afraid of not being able to perform the same way they used to, they鈥檙e worried about re-injuring themselves (if that鈥檚 the reason they stopped working out) or they鈥檙e just suffering from the sheer anticipation of what lies ahead. All of these factors may make it harder to actually get back into the gym, she says, which creates a negative cycle of nervousness, delay and more nervousness.

2. You can use it to your advantage. Being nervous doesn鈥檛 always have to be a bad thing. In fact, you can use those feelings to motivate yourself and maybe even perform better than you normally would. 鈥淓mbracing the feelings of nervousness as a positive, a sense of anticipation and excitement rather than a negative or sense of dread can help you use the jitters to your advantage,鈥 Kristen explains. 鈥淎dopting and focusing on a 鈥榯his is what it feels like to be ready鈥 mindset can help channel the surge of adrenaline that often accompanies the jitters.鈥

In the world of elite athletes, the absence of pre-event jitters is actually a cause for concern, she notes. 鈥淚n sport psychology, we often talk about the 鈥榦ptimal level of arousal鈥 or 鈥榦ptimal up.鈥 When athletes aren鈥檛 鈥榰p鈥 for a workout or an event, they talk about being 鈥榝lat鈥 or under-aroused,鈥 she explains. Being flat can mean that athletes won鈥檛 perform at their highest level, so in many cases, the anxiety they get before competing is considered a good thing. Of course, this pendulum can swing too far in the other direction, but if you can embrace your inner athlete and turn your nervousness into a source of energy, getting yourself to the gym might be just a little bit easier!

3. You can combat it. While it鈥檚 completely normal to have some jitters, it鈥檚 also important to acknowledge that the anxiety you鈥檙e feeling is temporary and can be overcome. For those who do make it back to their fitness routine, being nervous can make working out less enjoyable than it was before, which in turn makes it less likely that they鈥檒l continue coming back. Another potential downside to nerves? 鈥淭hey can increase muscle tension, which can increase the risk of injury in the gym,鈥 says Kristen. Yikes.

So how can you conquer this anxiety? It鈥檚 all about being prepared and knowing yourself. 鈥淭hink about how you feel when you are anxious,鈥 Kristen suggests. 鈥淒o you get sweaty palms, increased heartbeat, have to use the bathroom more? What are your tells? These physiological signs often seem to occur on their own, but they are a response to something we are thinking or perceiving in our environment.鈥 Understanding what to look for can make these physical responses less scary and less likely to impact your decisions about getting your sweat on. 鈥淐atching the signs early will allow you an opportunity to direct them and how you choose to interpret them, rather than get overwhelmed by them,鈥 says Kristen. Think about the things you feel when you get nervous before going to the gym, and the next time you鈥檙e feeling that way, remember it鈥檚 all in your head! You鈥檙e in control of how you feel and the progress you make, so get back at it!

How do you deal with pre-workout anxiety? Share your tips and tricks with us @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Jim Spellman/Getty)