Alcoholics Anonymous popularized the idea that being of service reinforces sobriety. Although I haven’t gone the AA route, I’ve felt this intuitively throughout my recovery. Helping others makes you feel connected, positive and part of something bigger than yourself. And when you’re facing a personal challenge, focusing on someone else can get you out of your head.
This is all true of the pandemic—a time when it takes more work than usual to stay connected and everything feels harder. One big task is changing our idea of what it means to help. Usually when I think of being of service, I imagine things like volunteering, providing transportation, or other tasks that necessitate in-person contact. During this crisis, we have to get used to a strange concept that can seem antithetical to being human. In order to take care of each other, we have to stay apart. But there are lots of ways to help from afar.
If you are still receiving a paycheck, helping financially might be a good option. You can pick a non-profit or small business whose work you value and donate. You can also financially help service industry workers who are now jobless. I’ve shared this on the blog before, but I think it’s an important resource. It’s a virtual tip jar for service industry staff, organized by city.
You might look up a local business you frequented before the pandemic and donate to one of its employees. Many non-profits have had to suspend volunteer services, or are losing volunteers because of people staying home. You could reach out to an organization you like and see if there’s a way to volunteer remotely. Things like writing grants or responding to phone calls can be done from home.
But you can get creative, too. Maybe you write the story of what the organization means to you and share it on social media. Or you set aside a certain amount of time a week to share the donate page to one or several local organizations.
These are all bigger picture ways to help—but helping the people in your life is a cause just as worthy. This can look like checking in with friends and family, making a nice meal for anyone you’re quarantined with, or something else that makes those around you (even if by phone) feel cared for.
Some, or even many, may not have the emotional bandwidth to do these things right now. That’s okay. But if you do have energy and want to help, it’s worth recognizing who is right in front of you (again, even if by phone) that might need support.
That said, if you yourself need help, it may be too daunting to try to help others. If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers across the country are open and here during this crisis, with hospital-grade sanitization to ensure your safety in treatment. Many of our staff have been where you are. From personal and professional experience, we will help you build the tools to thrive in long-term recovery. To find out more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.