How are you?
Five months into this pandemic is probably a good time to stop and assess how you’re doing. There is so much going on, so very much, that you can either take it all in and feel your head explode or hide in the sand and hope you’ll wake up to find it’s been a dystopian dream. Most likely, you’ve alternated between these two extremes. There are so many people in need and there are so many who have things to offer. Take a moment to take stock. Below are some questions that might guide you to do something differently and shake up the new normal of your pandemic routine.
Now is a good time to give what you have to offer and accept help with what you need.
Food: Do you have enough? If so, consider donating money to a food bank or starting a food drive for canned goods in your neighborhood to help out those in need. If you need food, please reach out for help. Everyone understands these times have created additional hardships.
Extra food? I had a dozen bananas that I knew I’d end up having to compost. Instead, I took a picture and sent it to neighbors. One wanted to use them to make banana bread. That made me happy. A few days later I needed lemons and asked a different neighbor if I could grab a couple from her tree. She texted back immediately, encouraging me to take what I needed. Then a friend stopped by and dropped off a lemon tree for me out of the blue!
Loss: Have you lost someone during the pandemic? If so, reach out to friends and family for comfort. You can ask for fifteen minutes to simply process what’s in your heart. You can request there be no interruptions or platitudes (“it’ll be okay”) — just listening. Local support groups might be something to try. They’ll hopefully be online, but that could be preferable to the isolation many of us choose during grief. Faith based institutions might also offer pastoral counseling. If you know someone who’s experienced a loss, reach out. You may not know what to say, which is okay. I’d suggest saying, “I’d like to be there for you. Let me know what you need right now and if you don’t know what that is, let’s talk and figure it out.”
Kids: Do you have children? Do others you know have children? There are a myriad of issues facing parents and their kids including boredom, anxiety about the future, frustration about being back at home with parents, sadness over not seeing friends. Can you reach out to someone with young adult children to offer support? Help with resume writing? For little ones can you offer to read a book over zoom. If you have kids and need assistance, might you ask a friend or family to do this once a week to give you a ½ hour to attend to something else?
Coping: Many are turning to drugs and/or alcohol to numb. Alcoholism is a disease of isolation. Others are finding their mental health is suffering. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) offers, “free, confidential, 24/7, 365 days a year treatment and referral information in English and Spanish for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.” www.samhsa.gov
You might try this option, even if you don’t think of yourself as a person who would call a helpline. You never know what resources might be available or how a connection with someone who cares could be just what you need at this time. The number of people experiencing depression has gone up during the pandemic. If you have insurance or can afford a therapist, visit Psychology Today’s website to find a therapist or support group in your zip code.
The list goes on: work, finances, health, spirituality, safety, politics, self-care…but, you get the gist. Offer what you have, be open to asking for what you need. People want to feel needed and it’s okay to ask for help. This rugged individualism that’s popular with the no-mask-wearing crowd is not getting us anywhere useful. Take stock and take action to support yourself and others.
Photo by balouriarajesh on www.pixabay.com