As I was just beginning the “home school day” with my children this morning, my doorbell rang. It was our next door neighbor. He was about to make a run to Walmart and was just checking to see if we needed anything from the store. Of course I asked him to grab us some Clorox wipes if he found them, but I let him know that otherwise, we were okay. He went on to the store, and we began our long day of school. Although Walmart was out of Clorox wipes (surprise!), I paused several times throughout the day and thought about how kind it was for our neighbor to go out of his way to check on our family. It made us feel thought of and cared for during a time when we are missing our old normal and the people that were in it on a daily basis. This is just one example of the many different ways that we can care for our family, friends, and neighbors during this COVID-19 pandemic.
The therapists at Water’s Edge Counseling are encouraging their clients to care for their family and friends during this time. Going out of your way to help support or bring joy to someone else actually helps to improve your own mental state. Here are 5 practical tips from our therapists to help you care for the people you love:
- Do not judge others. The way this crisis is being handled will vary from person to person and family to family. Some families and individuals are totally isolating. Others are continuing to gather with extended family and grandparents. Some families take their children to stores, and others do not. Some people choose to wear masks, and others don’t. Remember, that not every person thinks and feels the same way that you do. Do not judge friends and family that are handling this crisis in a different way. Realize that each person is trying to make the best choice he or she can during this difficult and confusing time in our lives.
- Be available. When a friend or family member calls to talk at a time that may not be your preference, try to stop and be available for him or her. This is a hard time, and when people reach out to us for help, we need to be there for them. This may mean stopping what we are doing to listen. It may mean scheduling a time to check in with a struggling friend each day. Perhaps your elderly neighbor needs an outdoor visit a few times a week. Find out where the people you care about are struggling and reach out to them. Also, try your best to be available when they reach out to you. Lending a listening ear to someone who is having a hard time is most likely exactly what they need.
- Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Many of us have conversations with people, while actually constantly thinking about what we want to say. It is natural for us to want to relate to people and share from our own experiences, but when others are struggling, the last thing we want to do is to turn the conversation back to ourselves. If a friend is sharing a struggle or difficult circumstance with you, be an active listener. Focus on what that person is saying and their difficulty. Try not to think about what story you want to share that relates or what you want to say. Really be engaged in what the other person is sharing and truly listen to them. During this time, when many people are struggling with mental health issues, listening is one of the best ways to offer support.
- Bring a smile to someone’s face. For many people, smiles are few and far between these days. Coming up with creative ways to brighten someone’s day brings a great deal of joy into a dark situation. You can even involve your children in these activities. Things such as taking someone a meal, putting a sign in someone’s yard, making a homemade card for a neighbor, offering to pick up items from the store, or throwing a Zoom birthday party for a friend are all ways that you can show your friends and family that you care about them, even if you cannot be physically present with them. Brightening someone’s day will in turn bring great joy to your day.
- Encourage them to seek help if needed. If a friend or family member is struggling physically, financially, or emotionally during this time, encourage them to take action. Perhaps they need to look for jobs or go see a doctor. Maybe they need the encouragement to find a therapist if they are overwhelmed with anxiety or depression. Oftentimes, people just need a loving nudge from someone that cares about them to take that first step.
If you or someone that you care about is struggling and needs help working through their emotions and circumstances, we are here for you. The therapists at Water’s Edge Counseling continue to steadily help their clients through these difficult days, and we are offering Online Counseling during this time as well. Give us a call at 912-319-5554 if we can help you!