Oh my nerves! The borders are reopening

·5 min read
P.E.I. plans to reopen to Atlantic Canada by June 27, with some conditions. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. plans to reopen to Atlantic Canada by June 27, with some conditions. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)

With news last week that provinces in the Atlantic region are planning to reopen borders to one another at the end of June, don't be surprised if along with happiness and excitement, you could be feeling some trepidation or outright anxiety.

Don't worry — it's normal.

P.E.I. is hoping to see its borders opened to the other Atlantic provinces on June 27. And pre-approved travellers from outside the region will be able to come into the province the same day, though some isolation and testing will be required.

We asked you how you were feeling, dear readers, via Facebook. And we talked to P.E.I. clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Roche.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

'A little more security,' please

"Awkward but joyous at the same time," said Terry Howatt of Charlottetown, adding "I'm ready."

Ainsley Kendrick of Charlottetown says she has a friend who is having trepidation about borders reopening.

"It has been so long since she has been out with more than one or two people she isn't sure how she will feel or act when it is possible again. I guess it's just good to be aware of those feelings and do what feels right for you," Kendrick said.

Carol Rybinski from Tyne Valley says she isn't ready to jump into socializing with both feet quite yet.

"I'd just like to get my second vaccine in my arm first, and my kids vaccinated so we have a little more security," she commented.

We're all feeling a little out of step, a little awkward, a little nervous — Dr. Jackie Roche

"Anxious? Yes. Only because some people don't know how to follow safety protocols," commented Bethany Coles.

Romeo Paul Gallant of Hunter River agreed.

"My biggest fear is people from away coming and relaxing to the point of forgetting the protocols the Island has in place," he said.

Margot Rejskind of Charlottetown says she "Must admit that I do not miss 'peopling.' But I will if I have to."

"Just breathe, if you panic. In time you'll learn to accept people again. This was just a blip on everyone's timeline," posits Alan Bjorndal of Charlottetown.

"On the first day I can, I will be hugging everyone I meet. I'll file all urges to panic away in a little tiny box I have hidden in my pantry with the word 'Panic' written on it. There, dealt with. Time to live again."

It's nerve-racking

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Roche, in an interview with Island Morning Monday, said it's normal to be concerned about reopening and meeting people again.

'Even though it will be hard to reopen, I think it's a positive thing for all of us to get to return to more socialization and connection,' says clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Roche.
'Even though it will be hard to reopen, I think it's a positive thing for all of us to get to return to more socialization and connection,' says clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Roche. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"It's nerve-racking, right," Roche said, likening the situation to attempting to ride a bike after you haven't for years. "I think we're all feeling a little out of step, a little awkward, a little nervous."

Some people are worried about their safety from COVID-19, and worried about what precautions must be followed.

And some people are just feeling awkward about socializing again.

"There's this sense now of, wait I don't know if I remember how to do this socializing thing, in bigger groups or people I haven't seen in a while, shaking hands, hugging."

Roche recommends if you are nervous, to start small with handshakes, then slowly rebuild to where you were before the pandemic. If you notice your anxiety is getting in the way, check the facts on the things you are worried about from reputable sources such as the provincial government website or the World Health Organization.

'We are ready!'

Others are "chomping at the bit" to socialize and hug, Roche said.

'It's normal to feel afraid ... it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you,' says Roche.
'It's normal to feel afraid ... it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you,' says Roche.(CBC)

"I think it's one of those times where we just really have to be tolerant of individual differences, we're all going to get back to this at a different pace," she said. "It's about giving space."

Lisa Gallant of Charlottetown says she is feeling fine about the change back to a new normal.

"We are ready! I'm very pleased to see that government has tied travel and reopening to vaccination status. I think that is very wise. It gives people an added incentive to get vaccinated, and we should discourage (by the strongest means possible) unvaccinated travellers from coming to P.E.I.," Gallant commented on the CBC P.E.I. Facebook page.

"I'll never forget how to 'people.' I love people and I can't wait to get our lives back. Old Home Week crowds, CBMF, shellfish festival, wine fest, any social gathering," said Darlene M. Hughes.

"I'm not a bit anxious. I've come to like my new life," commented Nancy MacConnell Bourque.

Experts say some will emerge from pandemic pressures like diamonds, stronger than before.

"The 15 months of solitude and contemplation will benefit our 'peopling' skills, as will all the extra time and effort and creativity that we had to use to make connections during that period," believes Karen Mellish-May of Summerside.

There are resources for Islanders struggling with their mental health for this or any reason, Roche said. She suggests starting with the P.E.I. government's Bridge the gapp website, which includes a list of resources in the community and provides resources and programming online.

"You don't have to struggle with it alone," she said.

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