One of the best ways to stave off fear, worry and anxiety about COVID-19 and its impacts is to focus on the positive. We all know that’s easier said than done, but this task is made a whole lot easier if you can turn your energy into something meaningful, particularly for others.
Giving back and helping out are two of the easiest ways to combat isolation, turn powerlessness into power and create meaningful differences in the communities you love. Now, we want to be very clear that we’re not urging anyone to take any sort of unnecessary risks during this coronavirus outbreak. But if you’re feeling helpless, we want you to know there are many things you can do that truly make a difference.
1. Making Masks
A number of communities are looking for residents who can help make masks for coronavirus first responders, including nurses, doctors, EMTs, police officers and firefighters. This is a wonderful way to contribute if you have any sewing experience. Contact your local community officials, hospitals or healthcare services providers to see where the need is greatest and how you can deliver these masks in a sanitary, safe way.
Even sewing isn’t your forte, you can still do your part by making masks for yourself, loved ones and neighbors. There are many do-it-yourself face mask tutorials online that don’t involve sewing or stitching. Scarves and bananas can also be used for this purpose.
First responders are in need of medical-grade masks, which makes it all the more vital that the general public reserve these accessories for them. Supplying your household and community with alternative solutions, such as DIY masks, can save dwindling supplies while preventing contamination when others do need to leave the house.
Just be sure to sanitize any masks you’re donating to neighbors before you give them away by laundering them separately and wearing your own face mask and gloves when handling them.
2. Give to Local Organizations
There are so many worthy causes and groups that are low on resources and (wo)manpower due to COVID-19. The U.S. is particularly in need of blood. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can make an appointment with your local Red Cross branch, which is in need now more than ever as public blood drives have been canceled.
Now is also a great time to clean, organize and Marie Kondo our homes since we’re stuck inside. The Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House are accepting in-kind donations, including canned foods, baby supplies, clothing, hygiene products, paper products, and cleaning and sanitizing items. Contact your local chapter to see what items they need and how to best deliver them.
Food banks like Feeding America are looking for volunteers to pack emergency food boxes, while Meals on Wheels can use both monetary donations and volunteers to help with their increased meal-delivery demand.
Naturally, there are many organizations in need of all sorts of support, from funds to goods, services and more. The best way to help is to reach out to your local branch directly and ask what they need.
3. Be a Friend to Those in Need
There are many ways you can help your community during the coronavirus crisis. If you’re feeling lonely, anxious or not in control, chances are high that others do, too. We need the human connection and the knowledge that others are thinking about us now more than ever.
So, reach out to your network. Check in with your family, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, whomever you can. This is especially important for seniors, those with a compromised immune system and those living alone. While you may not be able to hug them in person, a virtual hug can make such a difference to someone who’s had to limit their exposure to the outside world even more than the rest of us have to.
A phone call, text or email is a great place to start. If you can – and you feel comfortable – you can offer to help your elderly or isolated neighbors with chores. Bringing the mail from their mailbox to their front door, mowing the lawn, discarding old newspapers and bringing in their trash bins can mean the world to someone who has literally watched their world become very small over the past few weeks. As always, just make sure you wear clean gloves and a mask if you’re handling anything they may touch, such as mail.
You can also send a food delivery, flower arrangement or other supplies to their home through online ordering. Just be sure you alert them first so they’re not alarmed if there’s a knock or a package left at their door.
4. Be a Friend to Yourself
One of the easiest ways to contribute to your community is to remain healthy, calm and optimistic yourself. This means taking the proper precautions to keep us all safe. These guidelines vary based on where you live, but heeding your local officials’ recommendations surrounding public places, exercise and social distancing is a good place to start.
Following the rules not only keeps you healthy and safe, but it sets a good example for your community. Plus, it prevents others from feeling anxious, resentful or upset that the actions of others might have a direct impact on their health or the safety of their neighborhood.
Part of being your own ally means keeping yourself strong physically, mentally and emotionally. Make sure you’re carving out time for exercise, activities you enjoy and any spiritual practices that are important to you. It’s so easy nowadays to keep the news on 24/7 as we constantly refresh social media and eat ourselves out of house and home. Unfortunately, none of that does us any good. So fight the urge to binge, well, anything. Instead, make a balanced schedule that allows time for all your priorities. This will prevent unwanted distractions about the coronavirus from derailing your day, mood and self-esteem.
5. Remain Connected
Just because we can’t physically socialize doesn’t mean we have to lose all connection to the outside world and everyone in it. Do yourself and others a favor by remaining social. Start a group text, pass on funny Tiger King memes, or create a virtual happy hour through face-to-face social tools like Zoom or the Houseparty app.
You don’t have to limit these interactions to the people you know, either. You can join a virtual movie or TV watch party through Facebook, take a live workout class through a number of free apps, or play games online through a variety of apps and platforms.
Who knows? You might even make a new friend from down the street…or across the world! These small but meaningful interactions let us all know we’re still here, and we’re still seen.
No one knows what the future may bring – that was true a few months ago, and it’s certainly true today as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic. If we remain committed to staying healthy, connected and mentally strong, however, we can positively contribute to not just our own well-being, but the well-being of those we (virtually) touch as well.