In the midst of an uncertain and frightening time, it is a natural inclination to isolate and self-preserve. Indeed, in this case, it is a necessity in stopping acceleration of the outbreak! Even still, breaking through the mindset of “every man for himself,” we have witnessed beautiful expressions of civility, unity, and humanity across the world. Unfolding across countries, we watch creative forms of camaraderie, echoing a different sort of battle cry: “We are all in this together!” Let us not lose sight of the reality that, even in a season of social distancing, we need one another.
How, then? Following the pattern of history, this crisis presents both difficulty and opportunity. It is our opportunity now to persistently “claim the light,” as our own Mary Alice put it. Here is a list of Seven Ways to Care for Your Neighbor: practical actions that can be achieved despite it all.
Drop a Note
While paying a visit may not be possible under current social distancing guidelines, you can still thoughtfully check in on your neighbors. One safe, effective way is to leave a note on their door, assuring them that you’re here and willing to help. An example may be something along the lines of, “Hello! If you are self-isolating, I can help. My name is ___, my phone number is ___. Simply call or text me and I will do my best to help.” If you already have your friends’ and neighbors’ contact information, you can launch a digital group conversation to check in with each other throughout self-distancing. They need only reach out!
Although we’re individually doing our utmost to prepare for potential quarantine, not everyone is able to venture out and about for supplies—particularly those in the high-risk category. Look after your neighbors by inquiring if they need any groceries or supplies dropped off to them! Remain wise during drop-off, knocking on the door and taking several steps back, to avoid spreading any potential illness.
Encourage your Cashier
Speaking of groceries, our store workers are in the thick of the chaos, working long and exhausting hours, all while exposed to the many shoppers! Practice respectful social-distancing with your cashier, and remember the enormous impact of a friendly smile amidst the stress. Perhaps you can bring them a note, thanking them for their hard work! Remaining calm, courteous, and orderly will go a long way in helping each other, and the selfless workers, through the days ahead. (This idea applies to all those who are continuing to work and serve our communities during this uncertain time—garbage truck drivers, mail carriers, and many, many more.)
Send Care Packages
In order to protect our neighbors in Retirement and Nursing Homes, regular activities and visitors have been restricted. . . however, as of now mail is not! Here are a few steps to begin (understanding that every location will differ):
- Call a retirement or nursing home in your area to verify any particular restrictions.
- Determine if they would prefer that you mail items, or if they can have a worker meet you at the door to receive them, avoiding entrance yourself.
- Wash your hands before and as you package the bundles as an extra precaution. Suggested items include letters, bookmarks, crossword puzzles or coloring pages, colored pencils, crafted items, etc. Think how it will ease their loneliness and provide comfort!
(Depending on guidelines in your community, this idea is also wonderful for patients in your local hospital.)
Provide Children’s Activities
You doubtless know many neighbors, friends, or family members whose children are now home from school. Help them cultivate memories and imagination during this additional time at home by offering to mail or drop off games, craft or art supplies, puzzles, and more. You may also set up a “virtual play date” through outlets such as Facetime, Facebook groups, or video chats. If we think creatively, there’s quite a bit we can do to continue interacting with one another, even from afar! Kids delight in receiving mail and phone calls as much as anyone, and you will be assisting both the children and parents in this thoughtful process!
Brew Some Tea
As Bernard-Paul Heraux mused, “There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of tea.” We couldn’t agree more! One of the best steps we can take to remain physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy is connecting with one another. At the present time, it can feel as though the only topic buzzing around is the virus! Even if you’re not settling into a nook at the Tearoom, you can create your own, cozy teatime at home, or deliver it directly to your neighbor’s doorstep. Pick up a package of scones and your favorite tea at The St. James Market, and then relax for a peaceful moment of conversation together.
(At the same time, you’ll be doing your immune system a favor! Did you know that many teas contain a number of wonderful health benefits? Read more here.)
While technology can certainly provide positive connection during a time like this, nothing carries a personal touch quite like a hand-written letter. Let’s seize this opportunity at home to deepen relationships and brighten the lives of others. Throughout varying waves of fear, uncertainty, or loneliness, intentional connection becomes all the more essential. (Click here for additional letter-writing tips!)
In the coming days, we will weather this crisis together. Civility, community, and connection can rise as we each lend a hand, looking beyond our own needs to the needs of our neighbor. It is our opportunity to show grace every step of the way, and it will be felt across countries as we truly unite through this circumstance. Through it all, we can “claim the light,” and emerge stronger because of it.