Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress, like a lot. Sometimes when I am on social media, this stressed is further triggered and becomes anxiety because of the things I am reading. Most recently, there were losses within the community of Winnipeg, Manitoba which (no matter where these incidences happen) always affect me: the reporting of missing and murdered Indigenous persons, especially Indigenous women/girls.
What happened in Winnipeg was the loss of two individuals, one gentle soul who overcame some things in his life and offered to help others like him and another who was only 15 years of age, in state care and reportedly a repeat runaway (as reported by the policing agency in the MSM). The thing that got to me was the victim blaming/shaming that the policing agency participated in which is (without a doubt) disgusting but not a surprise, sadly, when it comes to MMIWG. It literally made me sick to my stomach. When stuff (and by stuff i mean, being stressed out) like this happens, I tend to run more often.
When I read the article where the policing agency blamed Tina Fontaine for what happened to her, I went to bed a little anxious and I was hoping to wake up feeling a little better. Though I did wake up feeling a little better and though I did decide to go for a run (a stress reliever for me), I was triggered all over again. During my run this morning, there was a black truck that pulled over onto the side of the road that I was running on and that was facing me (I was running in the direction toward it before it pulled over). I decided to slow down a bit. The truck continued to remain idle on the side of the road. I thought it was going to turn down the road but it didn’t. I decided to then reduce my run to a walk. I remembered that I didn’t tell my family I was going for a run. But I assumed they knew that I was out for a run because when I am not in the house, this is where I am: out running. I was triggered with these feelings of stress/anxiety/anger because this truck… literally sitting there on the side of the road (and I was running on a major highway–it sounds crazy but really it isn’t… it’s much safer than having to deal with the Rez dogs and any potential animals like bears). This truck, I had no idea what it was doing and I had these feelings of, you know, what if something bad happened if I did get closer to the truck. Would I go missing/murdered too? This is a reality for Indigenous women/girls, the reality of going missing/murdered even in their own community. It really freaks me out too because there have been multiple incidents while I am running on my usual route that black trucks (I don’t know it’s just creepy that they are always black) either that swerve off the road to the point I have to jump off the pathway I am running and out of the pathway of the truck or that try to get my attention while running like I don’t want your attention, I am fuckin running…leave me alone! It especially freaks me out because I have been in a previous car accident where I was hit by a car (while walking from what I’ve been told) and I don’t remember anything that happened. This all makes me super attentive to things that go on around me when I am running especially as it pertains to vehicles. Bad experience turned good, maybe?! I don’t really know…
So the above plus all these other stresses that I am dealing with (moving, starting law school, personal shit, etc.), I have really been pulling out the “things to do to keep my sanity” list during the last few weeks. I thought to make a post about some of the things I do to help deal with stress and share with others. I know that these may not be for everyone or that some are not very affordable but you can alter them to suit your needs or you may be inspired to create your own list!
Even though I am writing this post within the context of experiencing stress and triggering other emotions, I don’t mean to downplay other kinds of emotions that you may be experiencing like anger, sadness, etc. I sometimes use these activities as ways to deal with anger/sadness (much better coping methods that I learned along the way).
- Go for a run! But make sure you tell someone when/where you are going (tell a friend/family member before you leave and then when you get home safely).
- Go for a walk (and do the same as above: tell someone).
- Watch a movie (your favourite movie, Netflix, go to the theatre)!
- Start a journal.
- Research places you would like visit and plan your dream vacation!
- Research places you would like to volunteer and maybe volunteer on a project (I choose to volunteer on projects because they are usually short term commitments and do not add additional stress to your already existing stresses/stressors).
- Call a friend.
- Go visit a friend or a family member.
- Watch TED Talks.
- Start a blog (even if it is just a private one at first)!
- Learn to meditate (mindfulness meditation really helped me).
- Try baking a new recipe!
- Make some art.
- Have a shower.
- Paint your nails.
- Sit by the water and listen to the water.
- Sit outside in the sun and listen to the birds.
- Reach out for help!
The last one is really important especially for me. I have a hard time asking for help and when I need it–I freak out and can’t really deal. But the more I experience and the more I learn from these experiences, the more I realize that you can’t do it all by yourself and that it is important to reach out for help from people you trust.
Don’t forget people love you, care for you and will want to help you during your hard times and also your good times–we sometimes need help during the good times too 😉