We’re living in unprecedented times, which as always require unprecedented measures. As the spread of coronavirus threatens an unprecedented test for our global healthcare infrastructure, it also provides an unprecedented opportunity to love others, and that’s an opportunity we shouldn’t let pass us by.
Staying indoors as much as possible is a priority. Lots of stores are shut down and some of the people who need the most help also need to be kept at a literal arm’s length right now. All this makes showing love a challenge, but that’s hardly an excuse. There are still plenty of ways to show love right now, even if that love is going to look a little different than usual.
Loving Your Neighbors
If you don’t know your neighbors (the people on your block or in your apartment complex) well, now might be a good time to reach out and see how they’re managing. If you don’t have their phone number, consider a social media message or even just a note on the door with your contact info. Even if they’re not elderly, there’s a better-than-you-might-think chance that you have neighbors with immune systems compromised by diabetes or heart disease and they may very well be dreading a trip to the grocery store or the pharmacy right now. If you’re healthy, offer to run their errands for them and, of course, take rigorous precautionary measures with your health and hygiene if you do so.
In some cases, you probably don’t even need to wait for permission to help out. If you know some elderly or immunocompromised folks in your area, take the initiative to love boldly by putting together a care package to drop off in a safe, convenient place for them. You can add supplies like soap, food and hand sanitizer (as long as you take aggressive precautions with your own personal hygiene, of course) but also drop in an encouraging letter, some crossword puzzles or a gift card for takeout. Anything to let them know they’re not forgotten during a scary season will go a long way.
Loving Your Friends
Use Your Phone to Actually Make a Phone Call
Doing your part to “flatten the curve” doesn’t mean you have to go full hermit. Most of us are inherently social creatures and for the sake of your friendships (and your own emotional health), you should be trying to stay in touch with people you care about. There’s an old joke about how much this generation hates phone calls, but now is a good time to prove the stereotype wrong.
Try to call one friend a day and see how they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation — just make sure they’re holding up and ask after the ways the pandemic is affecting them. This is doubly true for friends who might be healthcare professionals or …
Reach Out to Hourly Workers
Thousands of employees will have their hours slashed or their jobs put on hold altogether, but bills and rent checks don’t stop coming just because the CDC tells everyone to stay inside. If you know any hourly workers, especially those in some sort of service industry, now is a good time to reach out and see if you can help. You probably can’t foot the bill for next month’s rent by yourself, but you might be able to help organize fundraising efforts for people in need.
Have a Skype Session
It’s easier than you think to get a group text together and set up a time for a group hangout online, whether through Skype, Zoom or any other teleconferencing setup. These platforms tend to be thought of as professional websites but there’s no rule against them being used to socialize even as we’re social distancing. It’ll do you and them some good.
Loving Your Church
Your church leaders very likely had to find a creative way to continue to provide a Sunday service to your church community. Whether through a text or on social media, reach out and let them know you appreciate the effort to keep you all safe and connected during this time.
Continue to Tithe
If you tithe to your church, don’t let social distancing get in the way. Your church most likely still has a means of collecting donations and their financial needs (which are often more pressing than many of us in the church pews realize) haven’t gone anywhere. Keep giving.
Ask Who Needs Help
Churches often have vast and sturdy social networks, making them uniquely well suited to connecting those in need to those with resources. Reach out to your church and ask if they know of anyone who needs extra help. There might be folks who need food, soap, a place to stay or even just a friendly connection.
Loving Your Community
Support Local Businesses
Restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and bars are closing down and both the owners and the employees are going to be put into frightening financial situations. You can help keep these places afloat by buying gift cards now to use later (you can keep the gift cards or put them in one of those care packages we talked about earlier). Or just head over to the merch section on their website and pick up a t-shirt or a hat. And of course, most restaurants with take-out options will continue to use it in the coming weeks. Every little bit helps.
Donate to Shelters and Food Banks
Your community’s normal issues like homelessness don’t go away just because there’s a pandemic, and places are feeling an extra squeeze on resources. If you can afford to help shelters stock up on resources, now is a great time to do so. Consider placing a call to your local homeless shelter, food bank or a home for abused women or runaway teens, and ask if they have any unique needs in this time.
Write an Inmate
Prisons are reportedly struggling with stocking up on things like hand sanitizer, and packing dozens or even hundreds of individuals into close quarters like jail is less than ideal during a pandemic. Prisoners are among the most forgotten and neglected individuals of society even in the best of times, which these aren’t. Your opportunity to help might be limited but a little love goes a long way. Consider becoming pen pals with an inmate. Write about your life, ask them about theirs (but don’t be too nosy). You might be surprised at the connections you make. You can find someone to connect with here.
Help Workers Without an Income
If you’re still drawing a paycheck but someone you regularly give money to isn’t, consider continuing to support them right now, since they’re probably watching their work dry up. Your nanny, house cleaner, yoga instructor, counselor, private tutor or yard guy still has bills to pay. If you can help, they need you more than ever right now — even if you temporarily don’t need their services.
Take a Break
Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself does imply that you should be willing to show yourself some love. That’s extra true in these times when taking care of yourself really does help take care of others (the healthier you are, the more protected your community will be). Make sure you’re taking time away from the screen to read non-COVID-19 related content. The pandemic is screaming for your attention and staying informed is good, but your mental health depends on a diverse diet.
Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to become a full-time couch potato. In fact, for those who are able, finding ways to stay active will help your overall health — which has rarely been more important. If possible, take a walk or two every day. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up every hour or so and do something, whether that’s jumping jacks, arm circles, pushups, stretching out or just a quick stroll to clear your head.
Don’t slip into autopilot. Find ways to use your time well at home. Cook a big meal. Make time to pray. If you live with family or roommates, make human connection a priority. You don’t need to fall down the well of endless social media scrolling or Netflix bingeing (although a little of both is just fine). If you find yourself getting lost in the news cycle, set a daily limit for how long you’ll allow yourself to spend online and then stick to it. Your neighbors, family, church and community need you right now.