In the pandemic around COVID-19, we must look to each other to help us get through it.
It may merely be human nature to be kind and helpful when others need us. It is a challenging time, but we take comfort in knowing that gathering together for live experiences is core to the human experience. While it is easy to feel powerless in such an unprecedented situation, I have compiled some ways to help others during this catastrophe time. We can encourage more altruism for fighting the virus.
1. Look to the heroes
There will always be heroic efforts in a disaster—people who sacrifice themselves for the good of others. Think of the health care workers who are treating people infected with this virus at high personal risk. Or those infected with the virus who voluntarily isolate themselves for weeks to protect the public.
When we hear stories of these people, we feel what is called moral elevation. In essence, a warm feeling inside that inspires us, fueling optimism, and a desire to act ourselves altruistically. While the temptation might be to focus on fear and uncertainty, we can redirect our attention to those who are doing the right thing and trying to stay positive. They will lead us to be better citizens ourselves.
2. Stay calm and focused
It’s easy to be lost in fear when disaster strikes. However, it doesn’t help anyone to stir up panic about the situation, because we don’t think as clearly when we are in emergency mode.
You can see how this has played out already in society as people have been stockpiling masks and creating a shortage of items that we need. This situation could affect the people who genuinely need them—who are sick and in need of things to help them avoid spreading the disease to the rest of us.
How can we stay calmer and make wiser choices? One way is to use mindfulness, which has been shown to both lessen emotional reactivity and help us make better decisions. We might take a walk in the park or nearby woods and let nature soothe us. Or we could talk to a friend—a calm friend, who can help us reduce our anxiety.
Our standard ways of connecting socially, like dinner parties and gatherings, may have to change. We need to maintain an air of calm and to spread it to those around us. After all, our emotions tend to be contagious in our social circles, and we should do our best to keep fear and panic contained.
3. Show gratitude
One of the kindest things we can do is to say “thank you” to those who are doing what they can to fight the outbreak. It doesn’t hurt to send a message of thanks to people and organizations that are doing the right thing. Whether it’s a yoga instructor that offers refunds for canceled classes, the neighbor who picks up the newspaper for you, or viral experts who give you straight-up information on how to stay safe.
Showing gratitude toward others, lets them know that their actions matter, which encourages more of the same kind of behavior—not only toward the grateful person but to others. Creating a cycle of altruism is helpful, especially during a challenge that affects us all, helping to foster trust in each other and care for each other’s plight.
4. Remember our common humanity and show compassion
When we are fearful, our first instinct might be to cast blame on others or to indulge in prejudice toward groups we see as responsible. Some news show people of Asian descent in the United States are finding themselves, victims of racist profiling, simply because the virus appears to have originated in China. Though we might rationally know that no one person or country is to blame for a viral outbreak, our minds still seek simple explanations.
Research suggests that when we recognize our shared humanity and show compassion, we are more likely to pull together and to solve issues that may be complex. You can start by giving yourself some compassion, which can help you become more willing to admit mistakes and take steps to correct them. It is crucial, as human error can be costly when there is a viral outbreak, and we need to work together to learn from our mistakes.
Of course, all of these guidelines don’t supplant the importance of practicing good hygiene. We need to continue to practice good hygiene by:
- 1. Frequently washing your hands
- 2. Avoid touching your faces
- 3. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, you can lessen the chance of infecting yourselves and others.
We should also remember our social hygiene—looking for the heroes, staying calm ourselves, being grateful, and recognizing our shared humanity. In this way, we can help to make the world safer for all of us.
5. Help People in Your Neighborhood
Call or text your neighbors and relatives to check-in. Since individuals over age 60 are considered high-risk. Still, you can chat with them on the phone or by FaceTime. You could also offer to pick up groceries or run errands, as those activities can pose an even more significant threat. If you’re concerned about any contact with these older individuals, drop off packages at their doorsteps, and call or text after you leave.
6. Be Responsible
Listen to the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations to help prevent spread. Even if you’re not in a high-risk group, it’s our communal responsibility to keep vulnerable individuals from contracting the virus. Practice social-distancing. Stay home if you’re sick.
Finally, ask those around you how you can help them! Email, call, have video chats, and just check-in. It is so important to connect with your community. Keep tabs on those close to you and look out for one another.
Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.
~ Helen Keller
You can go to the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/workplace-school-and-home-guidance.pdf