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DENVER -- We went into quarantine kicking and screaming. "You can't do this to us! We're Americans! We're not quarantine people!"
But we went.
We stayed inside. We watched some Netflix. We figured out how Zoom worked. We adjusted our lives.
We get our groceries delivered now and our laundry has face masks in it.
And now our leaders say it's time to start coming back out.
This is good news, right? This is what we have been saying we've been looking forward to for months.
But it's weird, right? It's scary. The virus isn't gone.
If we've been fortunate enough not to have gotten sick, many of us are understandably reluctant to come out of our homes where we have not gotten sick.
We are thrilled that restaurants are reopening but we're not going out there yet.
Experts say, though, it's important to start getting out there, emerging from isolation, and not just for the health of the economy, for our health, too.
Psychologist Dr. Cynthia Chen says social isolation has potentially long-term effects that are directly proportional to its duration. The longer we avoid the things that make us anxious, the harder they could be to overcome.
We're not talking about forcing yourself to squeeze into the middle of the largest gathering legally available or even going to a restaurant right now.
Just baby steps. Wading back into the pool. The shallow end.
For those anxious about re-entry, Dr. Chen has these suggestions:
Go for a walk with a friend... wearing masks and staying six feet apart.
That sounds simple but for some people that's going to be a big deal. Technology and delivery services have given us the ability to have had little to no contact with another person for months now.
Have dinner with friends or family outdoors, on a patio or backyard, again keeping your distance.
A bike ride with a buddy is another way to safely start to get back out there.
For those really struggling with anxiety, Dr. Chen suggests focusing on the things you can control. You can wash your hands. You can use sanitizer. You can wear a mask. You can put the distance between yourself and others that you think is right.
We got into the routine of quarantine and by golly we'll get into the routine of re-entry. Humans are nothing if not adaptable.
One more thing... we've all been in this together but don't forget that we're all getting out of this together, too.