One way of Coping Through These Difficult Times

By: Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith

I still remember the day our world as we knew it turned upside down. We went from going wherever we wanted, socializing with friends, attending events, and going back and forth to work. Then BOOM…. the news hit-COVID 19 had hit throughout the world, and our actions were all scaled back.

COVID 19 quickly became a pandemic, where our cities literally had to shut down. Living in Toronto, where the population is according to Blog.TO around 45, 742, and the surrounding area has grown by 127,575 people, you’re used to going at a pace like no other. Scurrying everywhere, running from one place to another and and being squished like a sardine, pressed up against hundreds of others on the TTC. Yes I’ve witnessed many a people lose their temper just because you may not be walking as fast as the person behind you. Yeah, I’ve witnessed that more than I care to count on my fingers, and I’ve been guilty of that in the past too, but I’ve had to slow down because due to degenerative disc disease, I have had to walk with the assistance of a cane for most of this past year.

Yes, times are difficult. They are difficult for everyone. At first, when businesses had to close down, and we had to stay home, I kind of welcomed the change, but as time has worn on, I’ve had to learn how to readjust to what is our new ‘normal”. The new ‘normal’ being FaceTiming with friends, having contactless delivery, and most of all working from home.

I’m fortunate to be someone who is still working during this pandemic, but when we were told at work that it may only be a couple of weeks, and then it turned into over three months, I’ve had to learn to adopt a routine that I can follow at home, and self care practices in order to keep myself sane. So, one day, I saw a self care medicine wheel on the Indigenous website of TASSC, and thought, HEY! I can make my own version, put what I think I need to work on, and then hang it above my work desk, to remind myself when I get stressed to do one of the items listed on my self care medicine wheel.

I have grown to understand that when my emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health are in sync, I feel much better about myself and I don’t feel so despondent. I’ve been learning that my taking just a few minutes to myself every day, I can be in control of how I feel and how I can be present in the world.

This is what I have written for each realm in my self care medicine wheel. In the physical I have written things I can do :

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Go for walks
  3. social distance safely
  4. stay hydrated
  5. eat healthy

In the mental realm:

  1. give myself time to read
  2. learn something new
  3. limit social media
  4. stick to a routine
  5. give myself “silence” time

In the emotional:

  1. FaceTime with friends
  2. give myself the time to write
  3. reach out to a friend
  4. don’t be afraid to ask for support
  5. listen to music/laugh

and lastly in the spiritual:

  1. listen to my Elders/or phone one
  2. smudge myself and my apartment
  3. practice self-reflection/meditation
  4. remember to breathe

As a lesson in patience, I made my self care medicine wheel in a word document, carefully drawing each quadrant, and listing all the things I want to do to take better care of myself. Yep, I swore a few times, almost wanted to throw my laptop off my table while doing this exercise, but once I had it done, I was really happy. I had sat long enough to do something that I haven’t allowed myself to do in ages-focusing on my inner health.

COVID has turned my world upside down, and I am sure that it has for everyone else. We’ve all had to learn how to adjust to a world we haven’t experienced before. We have to keep our distances so that this disease doesn’t spread and make things even worse. We’ve gone without seeing our friends or in some cases family, virtual Zoom meetings are the norm, and now it is a bylaw that we don masks, in order to protect not only ourselves but others around us, who may have a immunocompromised immune system.

Times are difficult, but if you struggle with trying to cope in this new world as it is now, I gently suggest that you sit down and take the time to really reflect on what you can do for yourself. When you figure out what you can do to assist yourself in these trying times to keep up the good fight- obstacles get overcome!