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Hello Idaho: Re-engaging after the pandemic's isolation

"Do some of the things that you used to do prior to this pandemic, like setting up coffee dates or walks in the park."

BOISE, Idaho — The pandemic is well over a year old, but things are finally beginning to look more optimistic.

As social activities begin ramping up again, it can be a little overwhelming putting ourselves back out there.

Optum Idaho’s Dr. Julie Wood talked with KTVB about ways to re-engage and be friendly after isolation.

According to a recent Cleveland Clinic survey, 40% of people reported the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their relationships.

Wood said that as the pandemic's end nears, it can be hard to ramp your social life back up.

“I think we need to keep in mind that self-care aspect. In addition to being compassionate and reaching out to others, take it slow," she said. "Do what you’re comfortable with. And lastly, you want to be honest. Friendships really develop on honesty and being authentic with yourself and your feelings, and if you find that you do something that makes you feel uncomfortable go back to that previous step – take it a little more slowly.”

Someone looking to ease back into connecting with others can take steps to enter the process slowly, Wood added. Committing to a weekly get-together and leaning on your support network can help.

"Reach out and be direct. If you  want to meet with someone give them a call or send them a text and say 'let’s meet.' Do some of the things that you used to do prior to this pandemic like setting up coffee dates or walks in the park," Wood said. "Communicate your personal boundaries. If you’re still uncomfortable taking off your mask the let people know that you would prefer to wear your mask. Also, feel comfortable with sharing or asking whether you’ve been fully vaccinated or assessing where others are. That may help you feel a little more comfortable."

Wood said that respecting others - both your friends and strangers - will help ease the transition.

"Listening to others, being respectful, not being judgmental are really keys in kind of reconnecting and rejoining a social network," she said.

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