I think it's fair to say (and has already been said) that these are unprecedented times for much of the world's population. As someone who struggles with anxiety (only in recent years), I have found that this past month has been filled with a mixture of chaos, disappointment, and heartache for all the people who have been lost and those who have been impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
As much as I want to talk about anything but this thing that has been plastered to our screens, notifications, messages, and news headlines, I think there are things we can talk about to help others and help ourselves along the way. Sometimes, the hardest part of something like this--for someone like me--is feeling helpless or like I'm not part of the fight or the mission. That's the soldier in me, lashing out against inaction.
So, I've taken some time and put together a short list of simple ways we can GIVE and HELP others throughout the duration of this event.
1. Give yourself a stay-cation and ~Stay Home~ 💜
Yes, I know you've heard it before, and it should be drilled into everyone's head. I did go out today, but I went to get medicine for my children (allergy meds and fever reducers just in case). While I was out, I saw Chick-Fil-A had two lines wrapped around the building. I'm sorry, but fast food is not essential.
The oldest of my stepdaughters works at a popular fast-food chain and I'm angry that she's considered "essential' and has to go into work and risk her life just so people can have expensive food conveniently. I understand that people have to make money, but you can't spend money if you're dead or if you're taking weeks off to grieve because you unknowingly brought home the virus to your family. My husband and I have made it clear to her and her fiance that if they need help, we'll pull together whatever we can to help them get through this.
My family is especially fortunate to have resources and the faith that we'll always land on our feet, I know, but I don't want anyone to risk their lives, their spouse's lives, their children's lives, or anyone else's lives for something so temporary as money. If you need help badly, reach out to me and I'll gladly do the research and help find the best organizations to help you through this.
2. Give Love
You can turn on your computer, your preferred social network, and whatever device you use to get your news and find reprimands, anger, grief, and venom at every turn. It's time to turn down that noise and those negative feelings and, instead, make a mindful effort to remember to channel love. More than anything, the strength it takes to share love instead of division and hatred will help us pull through this together; through isolation, through the numbers, through the hardship, through financial devastation, and through the losses.
Offer a smile, a joke, a wave when you see a neighbor or any downtrodden-looking soul. You never know just how far a kind gesture can go toward to helping pick up someone's spirit when they need it the most.
Go through your friends list on your favorite social networks (or your contact list in your email) and reach out. Send a real, personalized, quick message and ask how your friends are doing. Even if you can't invite your friends over or go see them (or meet them), a short, individual message can mean a lot to someone, especially those who struggle in isolation or who may be fighting alone against depression.
3. Give of your talents
What activity, skill, or hobby are you great at? Come now, seriously, there must be something!
If you're reading this blog, then it's pretty likely that you're a writer and writing is the skill you're most interested in advancing. Your ability to tell compelling stories is a talent (one that grows with practice) that can be greatly shared, and not just in the form of a book or ebook published on an etailer.
Don't get me wrong, that's great! It's beautiful, and it's art and I do it too! But... it's not the only way for us to get our stories out to the world and have a positive impact now.
Here are some ideas about how you can give of your writing talent to serve your audience and help them get a much-needed break or escape from reality:
* Post a daily flash fiction story based on a stock photo from a website like Pixabay.
* Post a snippet (a few sentences, a paragraph or two) of a longer story to your social media.
* Follow the Tosh.0 "Twitten By" example and start a story in tweets or comments or small posts and encourage your followers to join in. When you've got a complete story, piece it together and share it!
* Create a mad lib for your followers and post a new (short) one each week! Be sure to celebrate the crowd favorite before posting the new one.
* Share 1k words per week of a new story on your blog.
I hope these ideas get your creativity flowing because there are so many ways to tell stories and help people now with your unique storytelling talents.
4. Give your time for play
Play, I say? I do, indeed! Especially if you live with others, whether they are children or adults, it is crucial to find different ways to strengthen our interpersonal bonds and support our loved ones through this.
You could draw with chalk on the sidewalk, dry erase markers on the sliding glass doors, glow in the dark glue on the driveway, or join together for a good old-fashioned game of Uno or Monopoly. Whatever you choose, it's important to remember that this may not be the norm and it might feel like you're "changing" if you try these things.
That is OK.
We are no longer living life as normal. There is no "business as usual" anymore and to survive and thrive we must adapt, and it is especially important to connect with and comfort those we are closest to.
If you live alone, try playing a co-op game and connecting with other players -- or even play with the loved ones you can't visit right now. Don't worry about money, there are plenty of free-to-play games where you can enjoy community and connection. Although my personal favorite is Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), Digital Trends posted a list of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) that are free to play right now.
Why play? Because fun, laughter, and quality time creates stronger bonds and can also greatly improve our mental health and our ability to get through this--and your insistence on play could make this time easier for someone who didn't have the idea or feel motivated to initiate such activities.
5. Give Masks
Although not everyone is interested in sewing as a fun project, there are many people who want to actively use their hands to do something and this is a worthy effort. Sewing is certainly a skill worth learning, and there is no better time to learn than now, especially if you want to help the medical professionals on the frontline of this epidemic.
Here is a great news article about how you can get started creating and donating masks. Be sure to call your local medical facilities FIRST (before you begin m and ask if they will accept donations of handmade masks.
There are a lot of resources for mask patterns, and I found this one through a Google search.
If you can't make a lot of masks for donation, then I hope you can at least make (or find) a mask for yourself and your loved ones to wear for protection when going out for essentials.
Do you have ideas about what we can give to help ourselves and others through this crisis? Please share in the comments, we'd love to hear what you're doing to