While many of us are finding ourselves with more time to spare and are spending more time at home and less time out and about, there are still several things you can do to contribute to your community and give back. This is especially important whilst we practice social distancing, as a way of continuing to connect with others and maintain your own health and wellbeing.
Here are 10 ways you can look after yourself and others during the spread of Coronavirus.
1. Check on your friends and neighbours
In a time like this, it is really important to support your local community, especially those who are considered vulnerable – the elderly or immune-comprised, or those who might be out of work due to many contributing factors.
Consider getting in contact with your neighbours, letting them know you are here and happy to help goes a long way in making someone feel safe. Try to obtain contact details of anyone you think might need a little health in the coming months, and offer to provide transportation, or run errands (like buying groceries) for those who may be unable to themselves!
2. Clear out your closet While we know it is Autumn, social distancing and self-isolation mean that we are spending more time than usual at home. So why not do a spring clean and donate some of your closet to goodwill or another accepting charity.
A good rule of thumb for sorting donations is asking yourself, whether would you give it to a friend to wear, or whether would you wear it yourself. Unfortunately, dirty, overworn, torn, or otherwise damaged items are no help to donation centres! Items that don't fit, haven't been worn much, your kids have grown out of, or you know could be helpful to someone in need are all great donations at a time like this!
3. Donate Blood with Red Cross With stricter donation policies in place due to COVID-19, The Australian Red Cross LifeBlood are a lovely, welcoming bunch, always happy.
If you are eligible to donate blood, it takes about 45 minutes (with about 5-10 minutes for the actual donation). Alternatively, you can donate plasma, which takes a little longer but means you can donate more frequently (up to every 4 weeks!) if you have the time! The Red Cross needs an additional 14,000 donations in the next few weeks to meet demand from growing health complications.
4. Eat Out (or get takeaway) at a Local Restaurant or Cafe
If you remain healthy and feel safe in doing so, please consider continuing to eat out, (or get take away) from a local restaurant or cafe. Many hospitality businesses and workers are facing huge uncertainty, with reduced business and profits, and in a time like this, it is important to help them survive as well! Consider getting take-away or coffee a little more often, or buying a gift voucher, to use when things have settled. This means the business can use the cash flow when they are truly in need, and you can enjoy a free dinner out, or a bit of retail therapy when you feel comfortable doing so.
5. Staying Educated It is important for yourself, your family and others to keep up to date on the latest government warnings and announcements, concerning issues, like travel, social distancing, isolation, working, and other activities that are likely to continue to be affected by growing rates of infection of COVID-19. Sadly, this virus is a serious issue that has affected millions of people and will continue to do so. You can fight back, by staying educated on the most recent developments, but try to search for those good news stories too! And don't overeducate yourself – into fear or panic. Keep updated but remember to switch off to look after your wellbeing.
6. Donate your Time or Money If you have the cash to spare then consider donating to a charity that is local, or operates locally, such as Meals on Wheels, RSLs, local council programs, or other aid foundations, whose continued work is crucial and relied on by many in a time like this.
If you usually eat lunch out while at the office and are now working from home, consider donating what you would usually spend to a charitable cause!
There is also many community organisations and charities still seeking volunteers to help them run and help others, even at a time like this! Take advantage of having more flexible or more free time to help for a few hours – a little goes a long way. A lot of job sites like Jora and Seek have corresponding volunteer listing websites and are a great help at finding something that works for you.
www.bemyeyes.com is a fantastic initiative, where you can download an app, and volunteer remotely to help blind and low-vision people live more independent lives.
7. Buy Local
Consider shopping at local independent or mom and pop supermarkets, while major retailers or supermarket chains, will likely survive with no issues, even with dips in customer sales, they can afford to keep employing staff and running despite making losses. For many small businesses, this is not the case, a foundation of our economy and recognition of our morals as Australians, these small retailers are very important. Consider swapping out your food swap and Coles or Woolworths for an independent shop or locally owned IGA, whose livelihoods depend on a consistent customer base.
8. Don't waste food! Please don't stockpile unless necessary!
While we should blame others for being fearful of our current situation and allowing the media to perpetuate this fear, we should not follow suit. Stockpiling, while it seems like a good idea has a really negative impact on a lot of people. The elderly, disabled or those living week to week on low incomes, cannot afford to do the same, which means when they are able to shop, often there is nothing available for them, I'm sure you can imagine the great stress and worry this must cause!
It is especially important not to waste food, something we are all guilty of! If you are buying in excess and not even eating the food, please consider buying more sustainably, so there is more to go around!
9. Apply for a Casual Job
As our community demands change, so does our job market, and the available positions, particularly in the casual hours sector. Many supermarkets and call centres are seeking thousands of applicants to help them meet new demands, and it is a great way to fill your time, contribute to aiding your community in a crisis, and making a bit of extra cash, to protect from future uncertainties!
10. Finally, look out for others, by looking out for yourself.
It is extra important in the coming months to look after your own health (both physical and mental). Eat well, try and exercise if possible, and be considerate to yourself and how you might be feeling in such uncertain times. If you have others relying on you or want to be able to help in the community then your own health is crucial to this!
Finally, if you are experiencing cold-like symptoms or have been unwell, please seek medical advice, self-isolate yourself (no going into work or seeing elderly relatives!) and get healthy before doing any of the above.