In the last two days, I found out my next-door neighbor and three of my close friends tested positive for COVID-19. My parents are both medical professionals in their late 60s, facing a shortage of masks, face shields and hand sanitizer. Every day, I wake up to the sound of sirens outside and as I reach over to check my phone for the latest updates, my heart sinks for my city, my country and the world. I know I need to do something to help
But how? Most of us, myself included, are under strict orders to stay at home. Human touch is the most fundamental need of all but we find ourselves in a place where it’s severely limited and could actually hurt the most vulnerable. So we need to get creative and resourceful with what we DO have and what we CAN do. Though we might be locked down we aren’t totally helpless. There are ways we can share our common humanity.
Here are some of my favorite ways that we can help each other out at this unprecedented time. Some of them cost a little money, some of them are totally free and most don’t take too much time.
Do you have neighbors who are 60+? Offer to shop for them. I slid post-it notes under my neighbors’ apartment doors to ask them what they would like me to pick up for them and dropped the bags outside their door. Doing it in as non-invasive a way as possible is the safest for their health.
Are you missing visits to your favorite coffee shop or lunch spot? Leave a glowing review for that business on Yelp and know that when that business reopens you’ll be setting them up to hit the ground running – while giving their owners and employees a much needed morale boost.
Have you noticed that heavy feeling in everyone walking by you? Instead of being a part of the crowd, take a minute to realign yourself and smile at people when you go for a walk out of your home. Say thank you to the UPS/FedEx workers that you pass. Say good morning to your neighbor (New Yorkers, I know this one is hard for us!). You might not think it, but your positive demeanor and smile is contagious.
Ordering food? Double (or triple!) your tip for the person who is doing the delivery and be sure to say a huge thank you to him or her. Acts of generosity often do more for the beneficiary than the receiver.
Do you have a friend who lives on his or her own? Pick up the phone and check in on them. Social isolation is especially hard for those without partners, roommates and pets so your call or FaceTime will mean more than you know at this time.
Do you know people that are first responders and on the front lines? Offer to help them with grocery shopping, chores or child care or offering to walk their dog while they are out saving lives. Don’t know what they want? An Amazon gift certificate is a good option or a gift certificate to a restaurant they love (extra benefit: supporting local).
There are studies that show that the anxiety fades when we take the focus off ourselves and think about how we can serve the needs of others. Pick one that you like and try it today. Or leave a comment for your favorite ways to help during this unprecedented time.