Updated: May 6, 2020
How can I help during these weird times, you might be thinking? Most of you are feeling the struggle and stress of isolating, and it is hard to know how to take care of yourself when taking care of others is part of your identity. You might feel exhausted, isolated and empty from not being able to contribute. It is overwhelming how helpless you feel in such bizarre times to be living in, and there might be some sense of loss of purpose.
As a therapist, I am an introvert but I love helping others and that is how I am able to fill my cup back up when I am struggling. There are so many resources out there on how to take care of yourself and things to do for self-care, but rarely do they speak to those like us who enjoy serving others. Here are a few ways of giving that are my favorite.
1. Check on others
Friends and family whether they live alone or with someone; everyone could use someone to talk to. Even though I am an introvert, talking to others and allowing them to vent or tell me how they are doing is one of my favorite things to do when I have been isolated for a while. A lot of people are struggling right now but there is a bizarre phenomenon going on where you might be saying to yourself “I am struggling but so is everyone else, so what makes me so special?” which leaves you reluctant to reach out. This is the time when you can reach out either by text, Instagram, Facebook, FaceTime or phone. This way you have control of when you talk to people (if you are an introvert) and you can take the burden off yourself to reach out. It’s a win, win!
2. Connect with a neighbor
See if a neighbor needs anything from the store when you go to get your own supplies. Going to get groceries during this time is often scary and disorienting, so if you are going out anyway, text or call your neighbors to see if they need anything. Most times they won’t but making that call and showing them you are thinking about them can light up their day. We live in a very diverse neighborhood so we have mainly been reaching out to our elderly neighbors to see if they could use some extra support around gathering supplies, but I know that single mothers or an overwhelmed family of five down the street could use an extra hand if you have it.
3. Make masks
If you have supplies and time, making masks for others can be extremely helpful. There are so many essential workers in our community that are still going to work even though there is a pandemic. If you have any extra cloth or old t-shirts, try making some masks to give to those essential workers. A lot of hospitals and clinics are getting masks donated to them but there are still plenty other businesses that could use the donations such as grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores, book stores, liquor stores and dispensaries. There are many tutorials online showing you how to make them so if you have the time and want to give back in some way, here is a crafty option.
4. Donate to your favorite small business and refer friends
Some places you might want to donate to could be restaurants, online boutiques, buying products from your hair dressers or estheticians, local breweries, coffee shops, local florists, book stores, etc. This one is a bit more challenging when it comes to being creative with who to donate to but think about all the places you would go to when you were not social distancing. See if any of your favorite places are offering deals such as buying gift cards, sending care packages, monthly orders, or deals on products. This is also one way to make sure they are still around when you come back.
Some of my favorite places
You might be surprised how many are needing your support in order to stay afloat and what types of deals they might be offering. It is pretty fun trying to figure out what to send and to whom while being able to support a small business. Here are some of my favorite places to donate to during the pandemic:
5. Send a loved one food from your favorite restaurant.
My husband and I have the cutest neighborhood Mexican restaurant that we go to at least once a week, they are still doing take out but are now offering delivery. So when something is as good as those tacos, the least I can do is share the wealth; I have sent my parents and grandparents surprise meals so they don’t have to cook and get to enjoy an awesome taco unexpectedly. They love surprises but if you have family members that don’t love them as much then you can also send them a gift card in the mail. Most restaurants are offering gift cards to help keep their business going during these times so that is a great option. Here are some of my go-to restaurants in the Denver area:
You might feel a sense of purpose start to breathe life back into you by helping people in your own life and others through your efforts to help small businesses. Because living in a pandemic feels so confusing and out of control, these are ways to help feel like you are taking some control back in a positive way.
Do What You Can Do
I know it has been overwhelming seeing “all the things you can do to take care of yourself” or “be more productive.” It is hard to sift through it all, and honestly most of these lists and articles don’t speak to the helper in us. I’ve had to be creative to try to find my purpose during this time also, and these are the ways that really speak to me. I find that it not only helps me feel like I have purpose and I am helping others but it also helps spread warmth and joy when there is so much uncertainty, without spreading the virus. These helpful ideas you can use to help give your life purpose right now without feeling overwhelmed.
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Christina is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Christina specializes in treating adults for trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn