An idea has been circulating lately that resonates with me, and maybe it will with you too.
The idea is this: that perhaps the best and most effective way to dig ourselves out of this pit of despair that we call "living through a pandemic" is to SERVE OTHERS.
Why does this work? I'm glad you asked.
Helping people makes us feel good.
Also, finding ways to help people gives us something to focus on and takes our minds off of our despair.
I saw a Facebook post a while back about asking loved ones who are elderly or have limited mobility what help they need this holiday season instead of traditional gift giving.
My new running buddy, The Minimal Mom, recommended that instead of overcompensating for a terrible year by overbuying (which leads to more clutter, more financial strain and more STRESS), we should find ways to share experiences rather than exchange gifts. She also noted that she felt much better when she found ways to help out within her community.
Yesterday I was reading about a technique to deal with anxiety from another mom buddy of mine (to be clear - none of these ladies realize that we are buddies, but that is neither here nor there). She went through an exercise to illustrate that in order to stop the spiralling thoughts associated with anxiety and worry, it is much more effective to find something else to focus on, rather than just trying to stop thinking about whatever is causing the anxiety and worry.
All of these ideas have been swirling around in my head, and I have been letting them get comfortable, having not entirely decided what this will look like in my life. Do you ever take a super simple idea, overthink the heck out of it, and then never really do much about it? Me neither.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was looking for baby gates. I happen to have a set of gates that I no longer need, and have been intending to sell them once I get around to it. They also happen to be very similar to the gates my friend is looking for. I immediately sent her a message, and we set up a time for her to collect them. While I was rooting around in the basement for the instructions, I found a few other baby things that I have been planning to sell or donate, so I gathered them up and sent her pictures. She took it all!
This was incredibly satisfying for a few reasons.
First of all, as my efforts at decluttering and organization continue, freeing up even more real estate in the basement is a huge success.
Secondly, my little baby gear scavenger hunt took my mind completely off the bummer of a day I was having and gave me something useful and uplifting to focus on.
And finally, it feels SO GOOD to do something nice for someone. When I was pregnant with e, a friend of mine gave me a whole carful of baby gear that she no longer needed, including an expensive stroller and a travel crib, and wouldn't take any money for it. I remember how awesome it felt to be the recipient of her generosity, and how helpful it was to be able to get those items secondhand instead of buying new. The idea that I can now do the same for someone else makes me giddy. I rode that high all day.
So now I'm sharing this with you, in the hopes that you can catch the fever too! (Too soon for a fever joke? I get it.)
It does not have to be complicated. It does not have to be big. You don't need to come up with any grand ideas on your own. The only thing you need is a pair of ears. Even just one ear is fine. It involves simply listening, and being open to responding to the needs of the people you care about.
Lately I think we're all in a bit of an oblivious daze. There are so many things that we are unsure of right now that we've become a tad self-obsessed. We're trying not to get sick, trying not to make others sick, trying to follow the ever-changing rules, trying to find normalcy, trying to stay updated. Many of us are probably feeling like we're not being the friend or community member we would like to be.
But it doesn't take much to get back on the right track. In fact, often, just the tiniest effort can make a big difference.
Are you working from home and have more flexibility than a friend you know who is still going in to work? Maybe offer to pick up a few things for her on your next shopping trip.
Now is a good time to go through winter clothing and donate outgrown items to a coat drive or homeless shelter.
Do you have a friend who has been looking for Lysol wipes and you happen to spot them while you're shopping? Grab a package and drop them off. (Not for nothing...I am that friend.)
Has a new family moved in on your street? It's a tough time to meet new people. Maybe drop a card in their mailbox to welcome them and introduce yourself.
Ordering more stuff online lately? What about leaving some Hallowe'en candy for the delivery drivers?
Try it! I think you'll like it.