How are you doing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Had you planned to spend your spring going to baseball games, and maybe some birthday parties and graduations? Do you long for the days when you casually shopped for what you needed today or tomorrow, instead of arming yourself with mask and gloves to hunt for toilet paper and non-perishable groceries? Do you remember when leisure time included friends, playdates, and restaurants.
If physical distancing and uncertainty about the future are getting you down, it may be time to take action. Lark can help you focus on your health by staying active and making smart food choices, for example, as well as manage stress better. Another tip to stay positive is to help others.
Believe it or not, helping others is a scientifically proven way to help yourself. The person who receives certainly benefits, but the giver may benefit even more. It can improve mood and even lower risk of mortality.
While COVID-19 can lead to feelings of helplessness, there are many ways to help others during this tough time. See if any of them give you a lift, too!
For Your Family
You may be feeling like you are already giving everything to your family, but there may be a little more to give. Can any of the following work for you and your family?
Grant “alone” time. If you have been feeling too close to your family, you may be craving some time alone in your home. If you are feeling that way, chances are that your significant other or another adult in your household may want some “alone” time, too. You can grant it by scheduling some time outside the house. It could be in the backyard, at a local park, or in the car, for example. Ideally, you could take the kids with you.
Have a party. The days can all seem the same, or punctuated only by less-pleasant tasks, such as schoolwork and chores. Something special to break up the monotony can put some excitement into the day for children or your significant other. It could be a themed party, movie or game night, date night, a treasure hunt, or brunch. As the social distancing orders lengthen, these special events could become regular, such as Saturday night potlucks where each household member makes a dish.
Grant a wish. What have your family members been begging for for weeks or months? Can you give it to them now? This could be a good time to do household tasks that were left undone for long periods of time, or to address a new desire that has come up since stay-at-home orders, such as putting up a partition in the living room so your kids have some privacy while you are in there, working.
For Your Friends and Neighbors
Staying connected and giving a helping hand can be good goals here.
Buy groceries. Are there older adults or other high-risk individuals living near you who may not be able to get to the grocery store safely, and who are not tech-savvy enough to use grocery delivery apps? Shopping for them can make a real difference in their lives.
Schedule social time. Meet up with your regular friends on video chats to stay in touch and virtually share a meal. They are probably just as lonely as you are. You can also chat with old neighbor friends, and make new friends, from a distance. For example, you could each sit on your own porches and have a friendly conversation.
Be friendly, from a distance. Greeting people you pass while walking, jogging, or biking is always the right thing to do. Now, that smile, nod, or “hello,” can be far more meaningful as there are fewer interactions each day. Just remember to give people their distance. Generally, young adults should step aside for older ones and for families with young children to allow everyone to maintain their 6-foot distance.
For the Wider Community
Surprisingly, the most effective goods deeds at giving you a lift may be the ones you do for people whom you do not even know personally.
Support local businesses. Spending whatever you can locally gives these small businesses a better chance at staying in business. This can include ordering takeout or delivery often (Lark can help with healthy choices), and purchasing gift cards from temporarily-closed businesses so they can have cash to pay staff now, and you can get hair cuts, nail jobs, and facials later.
Pay what you can. For a few lucky people, this social distancing period offers the chance to cut back on services and save a few dollars. If you happen to be in a position to make that choice, consider resisting temptation. Even if you do not want them near you or your home anymore, the cleaning staff, trainers, and babysitters probably need the money more than you do. If the choice is between making your savings account fatter and allowing these service people to buy enough food for their families, do the right thing.
Give blood. Giving blood is a way to literally save a life or a few. Blood is in short supply, and healthy adults without medical conditions are being asked to donate if they can.
Donate food. Food banks have a greater need, as supermarket shelves are often empty and more people are relying on food banks and other such aid. Most food banks are accepting non-perishable foods as well as cash donations.
Be appreciative. Who is making your life better during this time? Is it the medical workers who are taking care of family members or neighbors? Is it supermarket employees and grocery shoppers who deliver your groceries? Is it restaurant staff? Is it police keeping you safe, mail carriers and delivery drivers continuing to bring essentials, and garbage truck drivers keeping the streets clean? Appreciation can include a smile, wave, and “thank you,” a large tip, patience and forgiveness for slow services and incorrect orders, and a few pizzas delivered to the nearest emergency room.
Be nice. In this type of crisis, your individual choices matter to the entire community. For example, leaving that last package of toilet paper on the shelf if you do not need it can make a difference to another household. Other small-seeming, but important, choices can include coughing into an elbow, wearing a face mask, and making sure the sidewalk is clear in front of your property so the increased number of walkers have enough space to pass each other safely.
Everyone is facing new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily life can start to feel overwhelming, but there is a good way to feel better: help someone else. Whatever you can do to help may end up paying you back many times over, so give it a try!