Traditional Wellness

Traditional Wellness

As this initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic settles, it may bring up a lot of different emotions.

When we are in the initial “response,” sometimes called “shock,” we are often tuned out of our emotions. As the “shock” starts to wear off and we begin to become re-oriented into the present, the fear, worry, sadness, relief, peace, happiness, grief, can all begin to trickle into our minds.

The good news is, all these emotions are normal and none of them are permanent.

This is an “emotion-cycle” that will repeat itself. However, there are things you can do to help increase the visitation time of the “good feeling” emotions–like love, peace and joy–and decrease the length of the visitation time of the uncomfortable emotions, such as sadness and worry.

Reclaiming Traditional ways of living is something that will support our resiliency and wellness and increase the amount of time that we experience our “feel good emotions.”

Traditionally, our ancestors lived as a family unit (approx.5-15 people), in small indoor spaces, (in my Nation, a Kekuli (pit house), for example), and spent most of their awake time outside, gathering food, playing games, participating in spiritual practices, preparing food, along side the young ones, preparing them to take on these roles when they grow up.

This harmonious, nature-based living brought our ancestors the gifts of happiness, joy, pleasure, contribution, purpose, creativity, and health, to name a few.

We can experience the same gifts if we embrace some of the ways of living that they did.

It may sound like the “Traditional” way of living is out-of-step with our current world, but is it?

Even though this is a horrible time in many ways, we can still embrace some of the opportunities it presents to support our wellness as we move through these hard times.

While much of the world is on “hold” and we are practicing social distancing, it is also a good time to practice reclaiming Traditional ways of living. In many ways this is the perfect circumstance to reclaim this way of life.

We are encouraged to live closely with our immediate family; stay in and around our homes, many of us within my Nation are close to Nature, it is right outside our door-steps; and best of all, spring is coming–it is great time to get outside.

Some ideas to reclaim Traditional ways of living in today’s times could be:

  • Fishing: My husband and I caught some big trout at Adams River with a hook and worm!
  • Hiking: I recently Hiked Enderby Cliffs, but you definitely need ice-track grips.
  • Picnics (even if it’s in your yard): We took our normal lunch outside on a sunny day; it was nice!
  • Food and medicine gathering: I recently gathered pine needles for tea.
  • Playing games: I played capture the flag with my family on our property.
  • Making something (i.e. play-fort, garden): My sister just fenced a garden with scrap cedar they had lying around.
  • Noticing the animals around you: For the first time ever, I went bird watching.
    I am trying to learn which birds make which noises. It was really relaxing.
  • Staying active: I have been doing home workouts, there are so many good and free ones on Youtube.
  • Making meals: Try something new, make a meal with the whole family contributing in some way; or take the food prep outside to a fire pit or BBQ? I’ve been having more hot dog roasts (veggie dogs for me) 😊.
  • Watching movies or reading: Storytelling was used to pass on culture and teachings. There are many good documentaries, movies, and books that share the wisdom of cultural and teachings. A short time ago, I read a book on wild Indigenous foods in our area.

These are just a few ideas that we can do to reclaim Traditional ways of life in our current times, that share a similar purpose to those of our ancestors’ ways of living, that led them to having very full, happy, and healthy lives.

If anyone one has any other ideas that they are doing, please share with your friends and loved ones.

All My Relations,

Shawna Biron,

Shawna Biron, MA, RCC, is one of the Ktunaxa Nation’s mental health wellness counsellors.
You can reach her at or by calling 250-517-0306.

Visit her website for more articles.