Social distancing doesn’t have to be lonely or have you feeling disconnected with your friends, family, neighbours or community.
You might feel restricted for the foreseeable future, but thanks to technology, humanity and compassion, there are many ways to come together and keep supporting local communities and help individuals stay safe through these different times for all of us.
1. Shop local
Many small businesses operate from home or can be flexible in situations like this and are adapting to the new conditions; hand-delivering or posting goods in a way that abides by the safety measures in place.
If you’ve powered through your quarantine snacks already (and honestly, no judgement at all, most of us have!), you can reach out to local farmers and purchase fresh produce boxes, pick up a takeaway treat from a cafe, or save yourself some cooking with a delicious pre-packed dinner from a family-run restaurant close by.
If you’re toying with boredom, perhaps order a book from the local book store or take an online class with a local expert in something you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to doing.
Be sure to remember special occasions, too! If you have a loved one celebrating a birthday or anniversary soon, jump on the wonderful world-wide-web and search for local gifts. That way, you be giving a gift that is made with love and consciousness, as well as having a direct and positive impact on somebody’s life. When you buy something from a small business, an actual person directly benefits at the other end.
2. Support local
You might not be in a position to purchase much at the moment, and that is completely okay. You can support local businesses in so many other ways at this time. Word of mouth is still the most effective way of marketing, so share your positive experiences with those around you.
On social media, you give shout outs to your favourite hairdressers, cafe, jeweller, travel agent, gym, yoga studio, dance instructor, candle maker, naturopath, clothing designer, mechanic… I could go on, but you get the picture.
Write a review on that stunning weekend break that you’re reminiscing about from last year or that sweet barista who went above and beyond to make your brunch experience unique and memorable.
Raise awareness, because when life goes back to normal, which it will, these recommendations will stick in people’s minds and your kind words might have attracted a few new happy customers sooner rather than later.
When you take that trip to the supermarket, if possible make it an independent store but if not keep an eye out for locally produced goods.
3. Keep your memberships active
If it is possible, keep your memberships active. While your exercise class might be cancelled in the studio, most businesses are placing memberships on pause, or offering online classes to help you keep fit, happy and healthy during your time at home.
Exercise is especially vital for maintaining wellness, serenity and your energy in these challenging times, so ensure you’re giving yourself what you need.
4. Purchase a gift voucher
Gift vouchers are a fantastic way of promising your future support now. They keep the cash flowing at the business level and give you or the recipients something nice to look forward to when things get back to normal.
Book a movie night, nice dinner, reconnection lunch or workshop and decorate it in your diary!
5. Video catch-ups
These are so important and often forgotten in busy times. We are super lucky to live in a time where they’re possible! Can’t spend Friday night at the pub with your mates? No worries, bring the party to you!
Online platforms, such as Zoom and even new ones such as Houseparty allow you and your friends, family, colleagues and even people in your community who you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting before, the space to hold online drinks nights, live-streamed concerts, quiz nights, counselling sessions and more!
There really isn’t that much you will be missing out on in your community.
6. Pick up the phone
Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Whether it be a relative, an old friend from school or an acquaintance you traded numbers with at a yoga course three years ago and haven’t chatted to since. Whoever it is, ring them a call and have a conversation. See what they’ve been up to. Ask questions. Listen. Share stories. Tell them they’re doing a good job.
These are little things that make a big difference.
7. Create little free pantry for your community
A little free pantry is ‘a grassroots movement of neighbours feeding neighbours’. Pretty cute, right? The idea is that you ‘give what you can, take what you need’.
If your community doesn’t have one just yet, you can create one. Simply take a table, basket, cabinet or whatever else you can find that will do the job and put the word out.
There are people within your community less fortunate than you, so if you can, leave a few extra tins or toilet rolls you might have picked up at the supermarket last weekend!
Donate snacks, books, spare hand soup and whatever else you feel could help someone in your community.
8. Donate to, volunteer at your local food bank
If you’re in a position to help, contact your local Foodbank to help those in need through these times of limited assistance and support by visiting Foodbank.org to see how you can help.
People are devising new ways of looking out for each other all the time, and this downloadable PDF is a free and effective way of doing just that.
The PDF reads “Hello. If you are self-isolating, I can help” and the instructions are simple: “Wash your hands, print this, fill it out and pop it in your neighbour's letterbox.”
#ViralKidness helps look after your most vulnerable neighbours, as you navigate your way through this temporary ‘new norm’.
10. Tidy up
Next time you set off on your walk, set the intention of making the planet a little cleaner with your outing. If you live at the beach, take 3 (or more) for the sea and if you pass litter in the street or in the bush, be sure to pick it up (with gloves) and dispose of it responsibly. Then, wash your hands, of course!
If you’d like more fresh air in your lungs, tidy up the garden or plant some flowers. Small things like these can help make your local area a nicer place to live for everyone.
11. Get creative
Now is the perfect chance to embrace turning inwards; to cultivate kindness through creativity. Use your unique gifts to serve others and help get them through.
Maybe you read tarot cards, teach art, help people out of work to rewrite their resumés, have always dreamed of getting a community of women together or wish to start a book club.
Put your ideas out there, be a guiding light for others and follow the path you’ve been put on.
We are all in this together. Stay safe.
If you have any other ideas you'd like to share, please leave a comment below.