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Managing Stress with Cultural Knowledge

Sometimes, the amount of stress in our everyday lives can build up and seem overwhelming and unmanageable. From work to family obligations, to paying the bills, the number of things we need to do in a day can add up and put a lot of pressure on your physical and mental health. This stress can inhibit your emotions, your joy and even your ability to think clearly, throwing you out of balance.

But with the right tools the stresses of everyday life can be managed until those stresses are eased.  Here are some tools you can use to self regulate  and bring yourself back into balance:

Get out and ground yourself in nature

Spend time outside on the land wherever you are, whether that is your yard, a garden, your communities’ land, a park or a nearby hiking trail. Being outside and communing with the land and mother nature can act as refuge from everyday stresses and help you disconnect from the causes of your anxiety.

Release your emotions

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed, we hold everything inside and forget to release what we are feeling. It’s okay to cry, to vocalize the stress and pain, to talk about what you are feeling and release that energy. If needed, find a trusted friend, or loved one, or maybe a counsellor with whom you feel safe with and let those emotions flow.

Reach out to your community

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you don’t have to go it alone. Speak to your family, to your friends and elders and let them know what is happening for you. Let them help you with their wisdom, their laughter and their love. Strengthening your connection to your community and your loved ones in difficult times can help ease the burden that stress is causing you.

Lean into your cultural and spiritual teachings

If you have a favorite cultural or spiritual practice that you enjoy, like smudging in the mornings, jingle dress dancing, drumming, creating art, or singing, embrace them. Lean into those things that bring you joy and connection in your traditions and spirituality.

Eating a balanced diet

Getting proper nutrition when you are feeling overwhelmed is an important part of managing stress. It will help make your body feel whole and strong and keep your emotions and mental health balanced. Make sure to eat a nutritious and balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and fruits and vegetables. Whenever you can, incorporate your traditional foods into your meals and fun foods as well! The joy in eating what is familiar, comforting or fun can help boost your mood and nourish the spirit.

Take regular exercise

Move your body in ways that make you feel good. Whether that’s playing your favorite sport, swimming, going for a walk outside or dancing. The important thing is to move your body and move your body regularly. The more joy you can have in your movement the better it will make you feel.

Get enough Sleep

An important part of bringing yourself back into balance is getting enough sleep. Some ways to help make sure you get those needed hours of rest are getting off your phone/screens at least an hour before bed; give yourself a regular bed time; regular exercise can also help relax you and get that deep restorative sleep you need.

Above all, make sure you give yourself a lot of compassion and grace when you are feeling stressed. It can be confusing as to where to begin helping yourself when you already feel overwhelmed. Start small by incorporating one healthy habit at a time, and slowly build on the confidence that the positive changes bring.

For more information, culturally sensitive resources and supports, check out the links below:

Metis Counseling – 15 ways to reduce stress

First Nation’s Health Authority – Traditional Wellness and Healing

First Nation’s Health Authority Culturally Safe and Trauma-Informed Services​

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention by phone or online chat. Call toll-free 1-855-242-3310 or start a confidential chat with a counsellor at hopeforwellness.ca​.

Indian Residential School Crisis Line is a national service for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call toll-free 1-866-925-4419.

Kuu-Us Crisis Line Society provides crisis services for Indigenous people across BC. Adults/Elders line 250-723-4050; youth line 250-723-2040. Or call toll free 1-800-588-8717. Learn more at www.kuu-uscrisisline.com.

Métis Crisis Line is a service of Métis Nation British Columbia. Call 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722).

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