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Simple ways to spread kindness during the COVID-19 crisis
Kindness is good for the soul. Here are 17 ways to spread joy during the COVID-19 crisis.
If ever there was a time for sharing a little kindness, it is surely now. Science has shown that when we do something good for others, it not only benefits them, it also boosts our own health and wellbeing.
Researchers at the University of Sussex found that when people act with kindness, they feel better themselves. The 2018 study, which examined the brain scans of 1000 participants, found that acts of kindness measurably activated the reward centres of the brain. They also discovered that the more altruistic the gesture the more the brain’s reward areas glowed. The scientists declared the “warm glow of kindness is real”.
Help happiness bloom by sending a beautiful bunch of flowers.
Closer to home Geelong’s Aamir Qutub, who set up the Angel Next Door website to connect people wanting to help others with those needing help, believes many of us feel an instinctive desire to be kind, but don’t know where to start.
Since setting up his secure anonymous website in March, more than 10,000 people have signed up to either give or receive help, such as picking up groceries or medicines. Each call for help receives an average of six offers to assist.
The good news is, being kind doesn’t have to involve a formal network or require grand, expensive gestures. It doesn’t even need to take up much time. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or a heartfelt thank you to make someone’s day.
Here are 17 everyday things you can do to give someone else – and yourself – that warm inner glow that comes from kindness.
Everyday acts of kindness
Leave a posy
When you’re on your daily neighbourhood walk, why not deliver a little joy to someone through flowers. They don’t have to be store-bought, just a posy picked from your garden and left at the front gate of a stranger with a “have a nice day” note will help put a smile on someone’s face. And don't forget when you're out and about to keep your distance, sanitise your hands and, if you're in Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, to wear a mask.
Take in the bins
A small job for many of us can be a difficult chore for older neighbours or those living with illness or disability. So when you bring in your rubbish bins, look out for a neighbour and pop theirs in too. If you’re hosing out your own bins, you may want to give your neighbour’s bins a rinse too. Be sure to wash or sanitise your hands thoroughly before and after.
Make a mask
If you’re a bit crafty and have some time on your hands, you could spend an afternoon sorting through your unwanted clothes and upcycling the fabric into reusable face masks for friends and family. Making masks is easier than you might think and the Department of Health and Human Services has compiled simple instructions. Here is everything you need to know about face masks.
Send a personalised puzzle, run errands for a neighbour or write a lovely letter.
Not everyone can get to the shops at the moment, so on your next trip to the supermarket offer to do the shopping or pick up medicine for a neighbour or friend. You could pick up a little something extra while you’re at the shops, such as a small box of chocolates, to surprise them when they unpack their groceries. Remember to keep your distance when dropping off the goods - or better still leave on the doorstep and make a quick call to let the recipient know it's there.
Pay it forward
If you’re out getting essentials and stop in at your local cafe to buy a take-away coffee, pay it forward and shout the next customer a brew. It's such a simple act but could just make someone's day.
Be an angel next door
If you’re looking to connect with someone who needs a little kindness, join the Angel Next Door website as an ‘angel’. When someone in your area needs help, you’re notified of the request. Founder Aamir Qutub says that unlike social-media platforms the angels are vetted to ensure they’re real people. Those looking for help remain anonymous and can respond to offers of assistance through a one-on-one private-messaging app. Aamir says people aren’t just needing help buying groceries, many families are struggling financially and need items like clothes.
Write a letter
It doesn’t have to be an epic, but jotting down some thoughts on paper and posting to an old friend could really make their day. Let them know how much their friendship means to you or reminisce about the good old days. Introduce the kids to the gentle art of letter writing too. They could write a thank you note to grandma or grandpa for all those bedtime stories and birthday gifts, and include a hand-drawn family portrait.
Create a jigsaw puzzle
Print out a favourite picture for your housemate or friend, glue it to cardboard and cut random shapes to create a personalised jigsaw puzzle. Choose a subject they like – football, ballet, baby animals – or sort through photos to find that killer shot of a family get-together. There are puzzle templates on the web to help with the shapes.
Get the kids involved
If your family is confined to quarters on the weekend, it’s a perfect opportunity to get the kids to sort through their toys and set aside the ones they no longer use to donate. Many of the charities that love these items have put donations on hold due to COVID-19 but now is a great time to clean the toys and store them until restrictions ease.
Send a picture
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Keep the kids entertained and put a smile on a loved one's face by sending a piece of homemade art. With many people missing their families, this is a lovely way to show people you’re thinking about them. Plus, it'll keep the kids busy for a few hours.
Give the gift of a night off cooking, send kids' art to grandparents or leave a bunch of flowers at the door of a stranger.
Send a card
Being in lockdown means we’re missing birthdays, anniversaries and other celebratory events. Instead of sending a text or posting a message on someone’s Facebook wall, acknowledge import milestones in peoples’ lives by sending a card. And if you’re not the kind of person who keeps stamps in their wallet for a rainy day, online services such as Cardly allow you to choose from a range of beautiful designs. You simply type your own personalised message and they’ll pop it in the post for you. Easy.
Shout a meal
Give someone the gift of a night off cooking and shout them dinner. Whether it’s through a food delivery service such as Uber or Deliveroo, or through one of the myriad local restaurants or small businesses now doing takeaway or offering pre-ordered food hampers, there’s nothing like kicking back with a wine and enjoying a meal you didn’t have to cook yourself. Send pre-cooked woodfired pizza and DIY cannoli kits through Tremila, hand-made pasta and spritz kits from Ms Frankie or get their favourite local Thai restaurant to take care of Friday night's take-out. The options are endless.
Be a good listener
You may not be able to see your family and friends and some could be struggling to deal with the current situation. Take the time to phone them, especially those who are alone, and really listen. Cheer them up by talking about topics they enjoy, recall shared memories to help them stay connected, and remind them they are not alone.
Make being stuck at home feel a little more worthwhile by finding positive ways to spend your time. Volunteering doesn’t just help those in need; there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it also helps the volunteers, with studies linking it to everything from better life satisfaction to healthier blood pressure. Check out our guide to volunteering from home for ideas on how to get involved.
With many people doing it tough at the moment, donating to a cause you care about is a surefire way to send those feel-good endorphins soaring. Many studies have shown the benefits of altruism so, whether it's a food delivery organisation, women's support service or other community foundation, there's never been a better time to give back.
Help the disabled
The Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs group collects plastic bread tags for recycling. About 200 kilograms is enough to buy a wheelchair for a needy person in South Africa. About 100 tags fit into a normal envelope with a $1.10 stamp, so it doesn’t cost much to be kind.
And finally, be nice to yourself
After you’ve done good for others, be kind to yourself. That long-overdue soak in a bath scented with essential oil is a great start and will enhance that warm glow of kindness you’re already feeling.