The time is now. The need is imminent. We as a people are crying for help. So, how do we help each other and ourselves? On this Thanksgiving eve, my mind is spinning with these thoughts. My desire to reach out and make an impact is burning. I have dedicated my entire education and career to serving others and striving to make a difference. Yet, I often feel I fall short and do not provide the relief, happiness and wellness I try so hard to deliver.
This blog is my futile attempt, at yet another way I am going to continue to strive toward my goal. I want to address 1) how to help each other and 2) how to help ourselves during a time of pandemic, political tension and racial unrest.
1) How to help each other
For some, a financial luxury affords a quick fix at generously offering assistance. If this is you, I ask you to consider a donation to a local food bank, homeless shelter or nonprofit dear to your heat. Many however, do not have that option and their funds are carefully allocated to caring for oneself or family.
Listen, really listen. I mean look the person in the eyes (if you are with them or connecting via Facetime.) Set aside your own judgements, beliefs or ideas of what is happening in this person's life. Share your understanding of what they are telling you to clarify that you get it. For example, so Johanna you really wish you had the opportunity to stay on with your employer at least one more week so you can make the next rent payment?
Just because someone confides in you does not mean they want you to "fix it." Hold back quick suggestions or advice.
Pay it forward. A phone call, surprise care package delivery, funny TikTok to brighten their day, mailed card... are all things that require minimal time and effort on your part but may make the difference in someone's day!
Get out of your comfort zone and ask what is needed. Spend an hour or two volunteering your time doing something that you are good at. If you are a mechanic and know your single-parent neighbor is on a tight budget you could surprise the person by offering to do an oil change for free. Ask your pastor if you could spend some time mentoring someone in need.
Set your ego and bias aside and remember where you came from. I do not care who you are, I know you have experienced struggle. I appreciate the difficult experiences I have had in life because it has allowed me to be the empathic person I am. It is easy to label others and ascribe thoughts such as, well if they only did X, they wouldn't be in this situation.
2) How to help ourselves during a time of pandemic, political tension and racial unrest.
Ask for help, it is okay! So many of us are filled with pride and have been engrained with the idea that reaching out for help is shameful. We all need support at different points in life. None of us would ever succeed without it. There are food pantries, county services, crisis hotlines and much more ready to assist.
Let go of habits that no longer serve you. If you are in crisis mode and need to figure out how to feed your family this month, having an immaculately clean laundry room every day of the month is not going to get you what you need. We sometimes fill our to-do list with irrelevant items that cause us more stress.
Evaluate your input. Watching the news constantly and scrolling social media images of terrifying content (riots, deaths from the pandemic, etc.) will add to your stress levels. It is important to stay informed and act responsibly, in a way that will serve your community. However, your effectiveness and ability to do what you need for yourself, family and community diminishes the higher your anxiety and fear levels.
Re-evaluate your priorities. If you notice you or your family are struggling, make sure you dedicate time to addressing it. Perhaps using a sick day at work if you have it. Maybe applying for FMLA is what is needed.
Surround yourself with motivation and inspiration. Find ways of infusing hope into your life through books, podcasts, uplifting music, leaning into your faith, talking with a role model, what ever works for you!