As we all hunker down and spend an increasing amount of time on our own, it can be tempting to focus on ourselves. After all, this seems like a great opportunity to practice self-care, brainstorm that start-up idea, or devote some time to a favorite hobby. On the other hand, it’s also unavoidable that this valuable ‘me-time’ comes at the cost of a great deal of suffering. Our televisions and smartphones are constantly inundated with news updates of the increasingly grave situation that is a global pandemic. Amidst this devastation, it’s easy to resort to self-preservation. And that’s been a popular coping strategy, to which the barren toilet paper shelves can attest.
The ability to comfortably self-isolate is not a luxury enjoyed by everyone. So many are struggling in various ways to cope with this lifestyle change and it’s incredibly inspiring to see the ways in which people are coming together, across the globe, to care for one another. We can’t think of a more fruitful way to spend your time isolated at home, likely bored, than helping others. We know that’s a vague and confusing call-to-action, especially when we feel so separated from one another, so we’ve come up with some specific ideas based on what you have to offer.
1. Express Gratitude
In a time when many people are feeling discouraged and hopeless, expressing gratitude can be a meaningful act of service by empowering those who have made an impact in our lives. Reflecting on those who have cared for, advocated for, or taught us is a valuable practice on its own. Now more than ever, it’s important to let people know what a difference they have made for you. With the extra time you find yourself with at home, there’s no excuse.
Set aside some time to finally get around to that stack of thank-you notes you’ve been meaning to send. Or, simply send a daily email or phone-call to someone you want to thank, whether it’s a long-term mentor or even a service-worker who always has a smile on their face. Such a letter, call, or message may find itself in the hands of someone who truly needed it that day. While email is a great place to start, amidst this age of digital interconnectedness, hand-written snail-mail has a special touch of authenticity. And while you’ve got pen to paper, craft a letter to elderly relatives or care home residents who may be especially lonely at this time.
2. Empower Through Education
Offering your expertise to local communities could make a huge impact for those whose access to education is limited at the moment. Teachers across the globe, for instance, are offering their knowledge and skills to parents who are homeschooling their children in the coming weeks and months. If you have experience teaching or extensive knowledge on a particular subject, offer virtual tutoring sessions to the public. Relieving parents of the pressure of playing teacher for even just an hour while offering a valuable lesson to their child will not go unappreciated. Adults could greatly benefit from a session, too, especially if your expertise is geared towards an older audience.
3. Organize Community Events
It’s not just teachers who can offer valuable sessions online. And it’s not just the experts, either. While we love seeing all of the yoga sessions, workout routines, and cooking classes being offered by the best, we also encourage groups to gather and try something new together. You don’t have to be an expert to organize an online happy-hour, meditation or dance party. These gatherings don’t necessarily have to take place online, either… and no, we’re not suggesting breaking any social distancing policies. You’ve seen videos of communities across the globe singing, playing music, and applauding healthcare workers from their windows and balconies. Why not give it a try in your own neighborhood? It could even go viral, spreading some joy far and wide.
4. Lend A Listening Ear
It’s more important than ever to reach out to your loved ones and employees, checking in on their mental health. The Coronavirus has created a surge of uncertainty and anxiety-inducing news updates, and in general, people are feeling overwhelmed. If mental health isn’t something you’re used to talking about, this could be a great opportunity to break the ice and the stigma. Reaching out could be life saving in many cases. Texts, emails, phone calls and video calls are all valuable modes of communication. If approaching this subject seems daunting and you need help navigating the conversation, there are plenty of resources available, like this guide by UK charity Headstogether. You could also begin by sharing such resources and demonstrating your care and attention to the issue, either on social media or in an address to your team. By participating in this global conversation, you will help anybody struggling to feel seen, paving the way for future discussion.
5. Offer Mentorship
From cold emails to direct messages on Linkedin, business leaders often sift through several requests for career advice. But with a busy schedule and an inbox filled with more time-pressing threads, it’s easy to redirect these messages right to the trash. Now might be a good time to actually sit down with a nice cup of fresh coffee and respond. Students are in a tough spot right now. Not only have their typical educational institutions been closed or moved remotely, but the economy isn’t looking too inviting at the moment. Your expertise and support can empower young people to not lose hope. A quick phone call or even just a thoughtful reply could very well be the encouragement they need.
6. Marie Kondo Your Space
Tidying up Marie Kondo-style has taken off over the past few years as a strategy for decluttering your space and mind. So what does it have to do with selflessness? Well, in addition to helping discern what you truly need to get by (you might be surprised by how little that actually is), this practice might reveal a surplus that could really benefit somebody else. If you’re overstocked with canned goods or paper towels right now, look into your local food banks, homeless shelters, or other donation centers to see what resources are in highest demand at the moment. You might be hoarding a potentially life-saving stash of disinfectant, clothing, or toiletries. Moral support goes a long way, but sometimes physical resources are what is needed to make direct impact.
7. Consider Companionship
Let’s face it. Quarantine can get lonely. And while you might be getting claustrophobic within the confines of your apartment or house, you might realize that you have the extra space and resources to foster a furry friend. Many shelters are struggling with a lack of ability to support their animals. More and more are closing due to quarantine restrictions, meaning there are more animals in need than the staff can handle, and fostering offers a solution to this overcrowding. Housing an adoptable pet while they’re awaiting a more permanent home will not only provide shelter for an animal in need, but will offer you emotional comfort. This might be the perfect time to open your home and heart to a pet. Look up whether your local shelters are offering foster opportunities, or search on Facebook for groups or listings.
8. Direct Financial Giving
Last, but certainly not least, is your traditional mode of lending a helping hand: donating money. This one seems obvious, but is so important that we simply couldn’t leave it off the list. Many of us are lucky enough to rest assured that life will eventually go back to normal. For others, this period has put them out of work and the resources necessary to survive. Your donations could make all the difference. Consider offering financial assistance to charities, small businesses (by ordering out from your favorite local restaurants or purchasing gift cards or vouchers from local vendors), and any individuals you can get connected with. Check in with your freelance, contract, or service-workers and see if there’s anything you can do to help. If you have the resources, you might consider continuing to pay those who you typically contract from week to week, like cleaners or gardeners, who are losing precious income. Crowd-funding campaigns such as this one, offering protective equipment like masks for healthcare workers in NYC, create targeted impact. All it takes is a quick google search to identify ways to contribute to your local community, or world-wide.
Each of these selfless practices are not only opportunities for you to contribute now, during this COVID-19 pandemic, but are also ways you can adjust your daily or monthly routine to give back and help the world. And while individuals can create lasting impact, companies in need of well-built strategies to implement change can also take a lesson from these selfless practices. Integrating selflessness into your organization’s DNA by implementing a community outreach program, offering educational and mentorship opportunities, collaborating with charities, encouraging volunteer work, and prioritizing conversations around mental health can all be life-changing adjustments for others. You might even consider adopting an office pet, helping reduce stress and anxiety and becoming your team-mascot. We’re pretty sure your employees wouldn’t be mad about that. For help creating a robust and impactful CSR program, contact us at Main & Rose.