We’re all struggling due to the pandemic. The fact is that most of us are dealing with a totally new way of life, drastically different from what we were used to before the pandemic. Not only do we have to worry about catching a virus that could potentially be catastrophic depending on the severity of your individual symptoms; we also must now cope with the fact that many are struggling with job loss, and with the prospects of job growth being limited. Normally, 22% of slip and fall incidents lead to more than 31 days away from work, but in the case of this pandemic, even perfectly healthy individuals have been out of work for months. Entire industries have been crippled or even temporarily eliminated due to the pandemic, and countless people find themselves having to work from home where they did not before, or dealing with cut hours or a lowered salary. There are a lot of reasons why many might be struggling with the idea of staying home more than they did before, as well. Staying indoors when you would rather be out and socializing as you normally would can be mentally fatiguing. It’s depressing to consider the fact that you may not be able to see family for months, or even your office coworkers. There is much to worry about in this day and age, and the last thing that any of us want to do is sit at home and stew in our own concerns about what is happening to the world. And yet the safest thing to do is remain at home as much as possible, and limit social contact with others outside of our immediate household.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a good neighbor. Where previously being a good neighbor may have meant offering someone a cup of sugar or perhaps going next door to watch their kids while they go to the grocery store, now we must rethink what it means to be kind to each other in an age during which we can’t be within six feet of each other, at least not without a mask and hand sanitizer. Social distancing doesn’t mean the end of being neighborly. Rather, it means a transformation in terms of what is and isn’t neighborly. As you make this adjustment, allow us to give you a few recommendations as to how you can be a good neighbor in a post-pandemic world.
1. Try To Avoid Conflict
If you’re especially overwhelmed right now and in a bad mood, it can be difficult to make an effort to give a random act of kindness or to be outwardly helpful to your neighbors. For that matter, you may be under a lot of emotional and even financial stress. In some neighborhoods, it can be difficult not to be frustrated with certain neighbors, like a cranky person next door or someone who is always complaining about the kids being outside playing. Sometimes, social media community groups can make this even harder, as it’s easier for neighbors to complain about each other publicly without naming names. It’s no wonder that boundary disputes make up about 17% of all real estate issues between neighbors; we all need some extra boundaries right now! But just try to stay off of groups that might make you angry, and attempt to bite your tongue when a neighbor irritates you more than ever. You never know what they could be going through, especially right now. And when you’re up for it, try to channel your energy into something more positive!
2. Volunteer To Help Needy Neighbors
Once you’re able to motivate yourself to do something proactive (though take as much time as you need) you may want to make yourself feel better by helping somebody whose circumstances are worse than your own. If you’re reasonably young and reasonably healthy, you can probably leave your house to pick up your groceries as long as you practice proper sanitation and social distancing and wear a mask. Those who are senior citizens or suffering from some kind of chronic illness, leaving the house is growing increasingly dangerous. It’s estimated that about four out of five older adults struggle with at least one chronic condition or illness, like heart disorders, arthritis, or osteoporosis, and half of them will have at least two of those issues. That’s a lot of people stuck at home. Try to help them save money on delivery fees by offering to pick up their groceries for them. Communicate by phone or text message and leave the groceries at the doorstep where they can get them. Even offering to call them regularly to ensure that they’re safe if they live alone can be hugely helpful.
3. Support Local Businesses
Local businesses are struggling right now, especially those that are non-essential. While some have been able to stay open or re-open since certain state regulations relaxed, they may be struggling with keeping their doors open for a number of different reasons. Rather than going to a big grocery store for your food, why not visit a local market if you can? Farmers’ markets in particular are excellent because they host a variety of local small businesses, and in an open-air setting that is safer to shop within. If you’re considering buying something that you want rather than need, check to see if any local businesses around you offer those things, and see if you can support them by buying from them, whether their stores are currently open for in-person or if they offer online stores.
Say you bought too much produce, and you’re worried that it might spoil; why not hop on your community’s board and offer to give to the first person who needs it? Or for that matter, why not donate food to a local food bank? You can also share non-food-related resources that you have in excess with your neighbors. Just be careful and ensure that you’re not breaking any social distancing guidelines when you do so, and all will be well.
Right now, we’re all being challenged to be the best neighbors possible. If you’re ready for that challenge, try to take these steps and do what you can to help others through this pandemic.