While COVID-19 has put the world in a state of semi-permanent shutdown, those in isolation have come up with many different ways to stay busy as they adjust to continually living and working from home. While most of the ideas out there are fun, relaxing, refreshing, and at times just plain interesting, most of the recommended activities thus far have revolved around personally surviving social isolation.
If you’re feeling the need to do more than simply care for yourself, here are some suggestions for ways that you can reach out to your community (while still observing social distancing!) in order to physically, mentally, and emotionally help those around you.
It’s the Little Things
Remember that fear and paranoia are rampant at the moment. With that in mind, it’s important to avoid feeding the community-wide bonfire of stress and anxiety by throwing out thoughtless or unsupported claims regarding the coronavirus.
Instead, strive to find quality resources like the Centers for Disease Control or reputable .gov and .edu sites to help you stay informed about the sickness, what is known about how to control and eradicate it, and how we can have a respectful, measured, and reasonable response to the pandemic.
The simple act of having a calm yet informed opinion can do wonders in soothing the ruffled feathers of your dependents, your peers, and your community as a whole.
Don’t Overwhelm the Local Healthcare System
If you find that you’ve gotten sick with a cold or other minor ailment, remember that the healthcare system is absolutely overwhelmed at the moment — mostly with people who likely need far more medical attention than yourself.
Unless you feel you’re dealing with a genuine health emergency, try to utilize telemedicine as a viable alternative, especially if you’re simply looking for a professional to answer basic questions or confirm that you don’t have anything serious. You can even use it for eye exams and consultations.
Have a Digital Party
One way that you can reach out to neighbors, friends, family and any other communities that you are a part of is by hosting a “digital party.” There are numerous ways that you can bring your community together in a social distancing-appropriate digital environment.
For instance, you can throw a Facebook party and invite everyone to comment and contribute or start a Facebook watch party and create a group of “remote moviegoers” to view a video along with you. Netflix has created NetflixParty for groups of users to stream content simultaneously and chat while doing so. You can bring friends together on Google Hangouts or Zoom and play games remotely as well.
With so many powerful digital social tools at your fingertips, it doesn’t take much effort to come up with something that everyone will enjoy. Enabling your community to interact and gain some of the desperately missed elements of socializing with others can have a huge effect on everyone’s spirits.
If you’re feeling ambitious about your community-helping efforts, you may want to consider taking things a step further. Television writer Gennifer Hutchinson made social media waves on March 30 when she announced on her Twitter page that she was literally giving away $100 to anyone who genuinely needed the money during the stressful end of the first month of major COVID-19 shutdowns.
She included a disclaimer that it was a “no strings attached deal” that didn’t need justification and was to operate on the honor system. Later that day she said that she had done all she could and had to stop dishing out money hand over fist — but the point still continued to resonate.
If you’re fortunate, financially speaking, perhaps one of the best ways that you can “help from a distance” is by giving some of your hard-earned cash to others who are hurting around you.
Giving Out of Your Abundance
Remember that the giving doesn’t have to stop with your pocketbook. This is perfectly illustrated by a generous soul who, as highlighted on John Krasinski’s SomeGoodNews YouTube channel, left toilet paper and hand sanitizer out on the porch for delivery drivers to take as needed. The heartfelt response to the simple gesture serves as a perfect reminder that sometimes the smallest gifts can do the most to lift up a person’s flagging spirits.
You can also offer help to friends or family who are unable to leave their homes at all during this time. Many cannot even leave their homes for essential errands because of underlying health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. For those who rely on regular assistance, social distancing can prove life-threatening. And for those who are not used to having to do so, it can be disheartening. If you are doing either, be sure to do so with empathy.
Practice Good Hygiene
This may sound like beating a dead horse at this point in the coronavirus crisis, but it doesn’t change the completely valid point that you have to practice good hygiene whenever you leave the house.
This can have a huge effect on your local community, as sanitation and social distancing are critical to avoiding the spread of germs and flattening the curve. If you need to cough, do it in your elbow. Try not to touch your face. Properly wash before and after you touch things in the store. They may seem small, but once again, it’s these little things that can show a deeply profound love and respect for those around you.
Being a Difference Maker in Your Community
Whether you’re organizing online social events, using telehealth, giving away money on Instagram, or even simply washing your hands before you grab a cart at the supermarket, there are many, many different ways to impact your local community.
The important thing is that you shift your mindset from fearful isolation and self-preservation to one that takes your various communities into consideration as well. After all, one person can survive a catastrophe on their own, but it’s only through working collectively that communities can hope to make it to the other side of a disaster with minimal effects on civilization as we know it.