Not to sound like a Dicken’s novel, but these are hard times. Despite all the tools in my mental health toolbox, nothing really prepared me for what we all are going through today. This collective suffering is at a level unlike I’ve ever known, and while I’m barely knocking on 30-years-old, I know I’m not alone in this feeling. I quickly slipped into survival mode while simultaneously feeling horrendously guilty for not suffering MORE. Not being able to crawl out of my shell and help MORE.
As time went on, I stumbled across this video inspired by an excerpt from George Sander’s Commencement Address at Syracuse University, and it quickly relit the fires within me to get up off the couch and help in any small way I could. Thus, here we are!
1. Start at home.
Call and video chat loved ones. Even the ones you NEVER call. Hearing the voices of loved ones is good for everyone involved. Check in to see how they’re holding up, plan future get togethers and what that would look like. I know it isn’t a glamorous moving mountains thought, but it’s actually been much more rewarding than anything else I’ve done. Having recently moved to a new city and not feeling very at home here before this all began, I already knew keeping the people I love close in spirit would make all the difference. Knowing my people are okay helps make me feel so much better. I feel like I can’t be supportive to others without having my support system in place, too.
2. Check in on the charities and organizations you care about.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a nonprofit at this time. However, even if your own money is tight, you can always stay present and aware. I know my tendency is to dig a hole and escape the world. However, within the past few days I’ve revisited their websites, seen how they’re active right now, and made personal decisions on how I can help for the time being. I’ve signed up for volunteer lists when applicable and kept them in my sphere of awareness instead of dumping them to the madness. Sharing their social media posts, engaging in the comments, etc helps keep the conversation and cause alive and using your voice is one of the most powerful, underrated ways of supporting what you believe in.
3. Explore new and relevant causes you can get behind.
My next step was to branch out from the organizations I already know and love. I wanted to know more about how to help with more timely things too – like helping food banks, front-line workers, and making sure everyone’s mental health is prioritized.
- Food banks need monetary donations and volunteers – but there are also other local organizations that need volunteers with similar programs.
- Animal shelters need fosters more than ever (and if I wasn’t in a place with pet restrictions I’d so do this!)
- Support your favorite local businesses. I’ve been trying to shop small as much as possible – especially over ordering online at places like Amazon.
- Many communities, restaurants and delivery apps offer specials where they’ll donate for every order/meal you purchase with them. You can check in on your favorite local restaurants or businesses to see if they’re participating in any local causes.
4. Start a fundraiser.
I’ve seen people selling clothes on apps like Poshmark, eBay, etc to raise money to donate to their charity/org of choice. This is something I’ve been meaning to do, and I hope this post holds me to it! Certain groups like Feeding America also have the option available where groups and individuals can start a fundraiser through their website that can be shared via social media, email, etc, which makes it super easy!
5. Be kind.
I wanted to end the list with this because I think it’s easy to forget this at the day-to-day level. We get caught up in the stress or the politics around us and forget to just be kind to one another in everything we do. While I’ve watched so much divisiveness erupt during this crisis – it’s only intensified my determination to move beyond the muck to the heart of humanity. So maybe it starts small: being impeccable with our word and not taking things personally (à la The Four Agreements), smiling more, bringing light to the goodness in others, and of course, being kind to ourselves, too. Inner light radiates out.
I write this, not to tell you what you SHOULD be doing, because no one can tell you that. In your heart of hearts you know what you need and don’t need right now. The thing is, while this season has been achingly hard for many, the heart of life doesn’t change. If your life purpose was to help others – help others. If your life purpose was to write a novel – keep writing. If your life purpose was to find peace – be at peace… to find your life purpose – you still have time. I just know that sometimes when I feel the need to crawl away and hide, that’s precisely the time I need to reach out and support my community. So, if you feel this now, too, these are only meant to be like beacons from a lighthouse – just here to hopefully help guide you home when you’ve lost your way.
PS. If you have more ideas to add to this list or any other feedback – please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. This isn’t a revolutionary or exhaustive list, but it’s how I’ve gotten started. Sending out all the love and light!