Freedom – it’s so close we can almost taste it. It tastes like being able to drink a pint indoors at a pub. Being able to invite our mum over for a cuppa in our own house. Being able to hug our bestie. If all goes to plan, we’re just over a month away from lockdown being over. Next week (May 17th) should see the third step of lockdown easing in England, and the return of things like indoor hospitality, cinemas, and even events. Subject to government and expert review, 21st June is then being touted as the date when we can do away with many restrictions and start to get back to something approaching normal life.
When the lockdown roadmap was announced back in February, we rejoiced. We planned our party outfits and booked all our friends in for an emotional reunion. But now that it’s getting closer, it’s starting to feel just a little bit daunting. Will it be okay to dance all night with strangers? Will it be okay to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a grimy gig venue, belting out lyrics? If you’re feeling a bit anxious about lockdown easing, you’re not alone. Here’s the Dinghy guide to coping with the UK reopening.
Don’t do too much
If your social calendar is filling up faster than the planes to Portugal, then you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Yes, we have a year’s worth of catching up to do with friends and family – but do yourselves and them a favour and don’t try and cram it all into the same week. We’ve spent a long time in our own company this past 12 months, so going from 0-60 in terms of social interaction is going to feel full-on, to say the least. Yes, we love our friends and family, but they can be exhausting! Make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin; space out your social encounters so that you can properly enjoy each one and have time to recuperate in-between.
Don’t do what you don’t want to
Just because the rules say it’s okay to do something now, doesn’t mean that you have to do it if you don’t feel comfortable. Those of us who aren’t yet vaccinated might not feel safe meeting indoors or going straight in for the cuddles. It’s perfectly okay to duck out or suggest alternative plans. It’s going to take time for things to feel normal again, so just stay within your limits and build it up gradually or wait until you’ve had the jab. Conversely, if you’re happy to get back to close contact, be patient and understanding with your friends who might not be quite there yet.
If you suffered from social anxiety before lockdown, then this may be exacerbated as you start to get busier. Even the extroverts among us are going to take some time getting used to being around people again! It’s normal to feel anxious over any period of adjustment and change. Taking things at your own pace so you feel in control should help. If you’re returning to once-familiar places, they may look and operate differently, which can feel disconcerting. Take your time and you can always go on a short recce visit if you’re trying to ease yourself in. For example, pop down to your local for a quick drink before working your way up to a full meal. Hit the gym for an outdoor class and explore before committing to a full gym-and-swim session.
Talk to people
If you’re feeling apprehensive about reopening, we can guarantee you’re not the only one. Some of your freelancer friends will be feeling the same way and putting a brave face on it. Any good friend will listen to your concerns and give you the time and space to go at your own pace. If you’re feeling awful about things opening up again, and it’s affecting your mood, sleep, or appetite, have a chat with your GP about their ideas for managing your anxiety.
Some lines that might help you deal with social encounters:
- I don’t really feel comfortable with this plan, could we meet outside instead?
- The last time I went there nobody was social distancing and it was awful. What about this place?
- I’ve not been vaccinated yet, so I’m still being careful.
Take precautions that make you feel safe
With lower case numbers and high vaccination rates, the chance of you coming into contact with the virus now is dramatically lower than it was even just a few months ago. However, it’s still okay (and even sensible) to carry on with the routines that have been keeping us safe for the past year. Wear a mask if you want to. Hand sanitise away if it makes you feel safer. And if you’d rather greet a colleague with an elbow bump than a handshake, that’s fine (and, quite frankly, it looks cooler too).
Really, it’s just like freelance life. Even if you think the chance of something bad happening is low, there are still things you can do to protect yourself and make yourself safer. With coronavirus, it’s PPE, hand hygiene and downloading the NHS tracing app. With your freelance business, you can protect yourself against mistakes, legal claims and accidents by taking out Dinghy’s specialist professional indemnity and public liability insurance policies. They’re specifically tailored to the needs of freelancers like you – designed to be flexible, low-cost and stress-free. Make sure you’re ready to pick up any work that comes your way as things open up by getting a policy in place right now. All the info you need is on our website, and it’ll only take a few minutes of your time…perhaps as you get ready to go out and enjoy socialising again?