Some minor health issues of late have led me to give up wheat and dairy. Chronic inflammation and an unhappy gut had become too uncomfortable to ignore, but I’m happy to say that cutting those two things from my diet worked almost immediately.
The downside, of course, is that in doing so I’ve also had to say goodbye to my favourite Covid-coping mechanism – junk food. Gone are pizza, ice cream, poutine and brownies. Replacing them are stir-fried meals, nuts, vegetables, hummus and corn tortillas. I like Asian and Mexican food, so breakfast, dinners and lunches have been great. Snacks, not so much.
The gut has been called our second brain by scientists, and I can vouch for that. The mental clarity gained by listening to my body and not consuming the delicious food that was hurting me has been nothing short of exceptional.
So, I’m sitting there with my newfound clarity. It’s a Monday, and I couldn’t help feeling this immense boredom. It was unlike any other boredom I’ve ever felt.
Then it hit me – I’ve been using junk food, and creating a general malaise in my body, as a way of not confronting my own boredom and isolating thoughts.
And what do we do when we start feeling our uncomfortable emotions during Covid? That’s right, we go for a walk.
Unfortunately, my inner boredom was only reflected back at me as I stepped outside. The streets that night, after a light dusting of snow, were obscenely empty and I was again left with my thoughts and feelings.
After rounding the block a few times and not seeing a soul I returned home. My partner was up puttering around in the kitchen after putting our eldest daughter to sleep. Confiding in her, my moment of junk food clarity helped ease my existential dread.
We chatted a bit and talked about the things we missed most from before Covid. Mine was meeting friends at a restaurant and hearing the ambient voices in the background, hers was traveling to Greece and Serbia in the fall to visit family. We then proceeded to have a perfectly boring night together, watching Netflix.
So, what’s the point of my little story? Why am I sharing this?
I think it illustrates that no matter how heavy or light, this pandemic – what we’ve all been going through – carries with it an immense mental weight. It’s affecting us all and we’ve all cultivated our own coping strategies.
Sometimes, without knowing it, these strategies are actually hurting us – or worse, our loved ones. Having someone to share our stress, fears, anxieties, dark thoughts or boredoms helps take some of that mental weight off our shoulders.
The holidays can be a difficult under normal circumstances. I’m sure this year’s holiday has been an extraordinarily difficult time for many. If you’re going through them on your own, I feel for you. I really do. But I’d venture to guess that you’re not as alone as you think.
Call up a friend or a family member, see how they’re coping. Let them know what you’re feeling. If you don’t feel like you can talk about your feelings or thoughts with a friend or loved one, you can call the Wiichihiiwaauwin Helpline at 1-833-632-4357 (HELP) in Eeyou Istchee or 811 in Quebec.
Talking really helps.