Boost your mood ... on quarantine

Aliyah Chavez

Indigenous list of 10 ways to practice self-care

It is easy to feel overwhelmed in a time of COVID craziness. We worry about our families and our communities. But this stress can sometimes be harmful. In fact, it can lead to a weakened immune system, researchers say. All of this is more reason to care for ourselves. And there are great resources to help.

Here are some ways to come out of self-isolation with a new skill, more learning and new goals. 

Create a quarantine schedule
Staying at home means preparing for new challenges. More than likely, it means trying to stay on task while working from home. And for parents, it means keeping children busy too.

Taking time to write a routine for your household can make a big difference. Writing down a schedule that includes eating times, meals suggestions, structured work times and a set time when work is done for the day can help. Try writing a “to-do” list by prioritizing what you need to get done first.

To boost your mood, get ready for your day even if you aren’t leaving the house. Put on jeans and a t-shirt instead of sweatpants and hoodie. Put on a piece of your favorite Indigenous jewelry. It can make a difference in how you feel (and can also help if you have to participate in a video call).

The space you work in is important too. Try to work in a place that feels productive. Having natural light in your home may help. Use your traditional methods to make the space inviting, warm and a positive environment to exist in.

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A new twist with blue corn. Blue Corn Cupcakes made by "The Fancy Navajo." (Photo courtesy of Alana Yazzie)

Bake some blue corn cupcakes
If you have blue corn meal in your cupboard, now is the perfect time to add a new twist to it. Diné food blogger Alana Yazzie says this recipe has been one of the most requested since she created them in 2016. She describes them as “Very Sprinkles Cupcakes-esque but Native style.” You can find the recipe (and others) on TheFancyNavajo.com. 

Study your language
The Comanche Nation Language Department has been using Facebook videos to teach their language when people may have some extra time on their hands. Every day a team of language consultants record and post a video with short lessons of alphabets and pronunciation. 

Not all languages are written, however. Use this as a creative challenge to find other ways to learn. Plan a phone call with a language speaker in your community. Contact your nation’s language department. Look for guidelines online. 

Watch “Molly of Denali” for free
You don’t have to be young to watch this. “Molly of Denali” producers say they’ve heard of elders, parents and teenagers who enjoy their show. It is the first cartoon series to feature an Alaska Native character as the lead. The award winning show premiered nationwide on PBS Kids in July. It is developed by a team including over 60 Alaska Native writers, producers, voice talents, advisors and musicians … and they have full episodes on YouTube! You can also access the episodes on the PBS kids app.
(Related: ‘Molly of Denali’ is like my siblings)

Connect with an elder
Has it been awhile since you called your grandma? Wondering what she’s doing now that she can’t go to town or play bingo? She and other elders in your community would probably love to hear a quick hello from you.

“Been visiting my mom, making her meals, took her for a drive yesterday. It takes time but what else do I have?? Got the time,” writes one Instagram user. Others say they are even shopping for groceries for those who aren’t close. What other ways can you help?

Watch a TED Talk
TED talks are short (usually 18 minutes or less) talks that happen all over the globe. The presenters are masters in their fields and you can find TED talks on quite literally every topic. Here is a list of Indigenous people who have shared some light on topics in their communities. You can watch full speeches on YouTube:

Spend time away from news and social media
Indian Country Today loves our audience, but we understand if you need to take a break from the news for a while. Turning the TV off, muting news alerts and limiting your time on social media are all ways to escape an overload of information. The good thing about this is that it will all still be there when you decide to get back on. We will continue to bring the latest updates and people will still be posting funny memes on their Facebook pages.

Be active
Exercising and moving your body is a simple way to calm your body. Well For Culture, a grassroots initiative aiming to reclaim and revitalize Indigenous health and wellness, has movement examples on their website. Some of their content includes a 20-minute total body workout (where you don’t even need any equipment) and “tiny tot yoga.” Use these as examples to get started. Many places are offering free workouts virtually too or you can learn a new dance on Tik Tok. 

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The "Native Wellness Coloring Book" is available to print online. (Photo by Shalene Joseph)

Break out your crayons to color
The Native Wellness Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes Native well-being through programs and training, published a nine-page coloring book on their website. The book was created by Shalene Joseph, A’aniiih and Athabascan, who says she wanted to make a contribution by bringing people an online resource in a time when many are staying home.

“While we are all in our homes and safe, we can virtually come together as community and color,” Joseph wrote. “Let's see what you come up with! Tag us on social media and let's get through this social distancing one page at a time.” 

The organization is also hosting a “Power Hour” every day on their Facebook page. The event happens every day at noon Pacific time. Some topics include traditional storytelling and a healthy cooking demonstration. 

Make a vision board
Do you have old magazines laying around? Now might be a good time for self-reflection by creating a vision board. This is a crafting project where you display images that represent what your goals are. If you want to run a 5K, cut out a picture of a runner. If you want to learn your language, find a picture of two people having a conversation. This activity allows you to think through what your short-term and long-term goals are … and it gives you a way to visualize them in your home.

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(Photo by Aliyah Chavez)

Take a walk to watch the sunset
Sunsets happen every night. Sometimes life is busy and we don’t get around to watching the way the sky changes colors. Take a moment tonight or tomorrow to walk and be still with it — while being 6 feet from others outside your immediate family. Think about what you are grateful for, pray or calm yourself in a way you feel comfortable.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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