There is always something you can do to help others. And by helping others you will also help yourself.
Research shows that volunteering makes you happier and healthier.
Especially now, with most of us isolated from others or confined to interacting with only those in our household— it’s a great way to reinforce your community ties and remind you that we’re all working towards a common goal.
Finding ways to give back during COVID-19 will help lower your own anxiety and stress, boost your mood, and give you a sense of purpose during this difficult time.
As COVID19 continues its spread, the outpouring of care, support, and direct aid coming from all corners of the world is both beautiful and revealing. It tells us a lot about who we are as humans: When crisis hits, we reach out, offering hope in the form of service, donations, and lots of TLC.
Yet, as the virus destabilizes people’s lives and our global economy, we can feel helpless, not sure how to move forward effectively.
We’d like to share some ways to implement community action, care, and safety.
Start with your local community
The easiest way to give back is by reaching out to the people you know. Neighbors, friends, co-workers, and relatives can all benefit from a friendly text or video call.
It may seem like a small gesture, but don’t underestimate the positive impact of checking up on someone.
Start with those who might feel vulnerable right now. This could be your elderly neighbor who is cut off from their social connections or your friend who suffers from anxiety and depression.
Providing a touchstone for someone during this time is one of the best ways to be of service. And it will help ease your own anxieties as well and give you an emotional boost.
Make a donation
While many people don’t have extra funds right now, if you’re one of the lucky ones who do, consider donating to an organization that’s making a difference during the pandemic.
Some possibilities include hospitals and health centers or national and local charities that provide housing, financial assistance, or food.
You can also help your favorite local businesses stay afloat during this time by purchasing gift cards that can be used later, ordering delivery from restaurants that are still open, and shopping from home if they’re still taking orders.
Donate without spending money
If you’re strapped for cash, there are ways to donate without spending money. Here are some goods that are in need.
- Food. With more people out of work, demand for food banks is expected to rise. At the same time, panic-buying and hoarding have reduced supplies. Supporting your local food pantry will help close the gap. While the best way to support food banks is through financial assistance so they can purchase what they need, you can also help by donating non-perishables like peanut butter, canned goods, pasta, rice, and beans.
- Personal Protective Equipment. Hospitals and healthcare centers are still facing shortages of PPE such as N95 masks and surgical masks.
- Hard-to-find supplies. Right now, it’s difficult to find things like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, bleach, rubbing alcohol, and disinfecting wipes. If you have more than you need, see if a local food bank, essential business, or anyone in your neighborhood or social group could use them.
- Computers. Since schools, offices, and libraries are closed, many of us have to rely on Internet access from home. But not everyone has a personal computer. In the United States, corporate and government organizations are being called on to donate laptops and tablets. Encourage your company to take part.
- Clothing. Although most consignment shops have closed their physical locations, some are still accepting donations by mail. Research the ones in your area to see what their practices are. Spending more time at home might give you a good opportunity to clean out your closet or take on other de-cluttering projects. And as restrictions start to ease up, there may be more demand for clothes to wear on job interviews.
- Giving blood. Fewer people are donating blood at this time, which means the Red Cross is facing dire shortages. And as coronavirus cases continue to increase, the number of eligible donors has dropped.
Use your skill
Get creative with ways you can help out. Chances are you have a talent that can be of service right now. Here are some skills that are in demand.
- Sewing. As hospitals are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, some are asking for homemade masks. This is a great way to help out on the front lines.
- Web design. As many small brick-and-mortar shops have had to switch to an e-commerce model, business owners need people who can create an appealing website, write copy, and photograph products.
- Legal aid. Many small businesses also need legal help to access funds from the federal stimulus package. If you’re a lawyer, you can volunteer to help.
- Financial services. With many bank branches closed, notary services are also in demand.
- Virtual Fitness. Maybe you’re a skilled tap, ballet, or hip-hop dancer. Offering virtual classes are a great way to lift people’s spirits and get them moving. Yoga and guided meditations can help them relax as well.
We each express gratitude toward others in different ways.
Before COVID, we could offer a handshake, a pat on the back, or a hug when socially appropriate, in addition to more common direct verbal or written forms of communication.
Now in the COVID social-distancing era, there are different means of expressing appreciation: a shout out at a Zoom work meeting, a thumbs up or heart emoji, a retweet, a daily or weekly email to your team inclusive of wins and achievements, or a monthly award for star colleague who went above and beyond in their duties and/or patient care.
Research demonstrates that these small gestures can result in tremendous impact in well-being.
While we can impact others by expressing gratitude directly, we can greatly enhance our own well-being by articulating gratitude in written or spoken form, even to ourselves, which allows us to focus in the moment on what we appreciate and brings us joy, happiness, or satisfaction.
“A true act of selflessness always sparks another—without fail.” – Klaus