Ways You Can Actively Take Part in Community Care

Below are 5 ways you can care for others, and actively take part in building and empowering the community at large.
Photo c/o: Roberto Hund

In recent years, the term self-care has been a buzzword in the mainstream culture. The practice, which is centered upon self-love and hygge, takes many forms for different people: it could be spending time with friends and family, or erecting boundaries, saying no, and having me-time.

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding self-care is that it is a selfish act. Contrary to this, at its core, self-care is not about putting one’s needs over others’— taking time to care for yourself allows you to be better equipped to care for others. This brings into perspective the widely accepted quote, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.”

However, true and important as that may be, many of us often stop at ‘self-’, and forget about the caring-for-others part altogether.

A necessary shift: Community Care

After you are all self-cared up, it is important to use your power, privilege, and resources to better the lives of people (both in and out of your scope of reach,) who may not have the same. Community care is simply being a support system, and can manifest as asking a friend “how are you, really?” And most importantly, sticking around to offer, and provide help should they need it.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that as human beings we are interdependent, and therefore need each other not only to survive, but also to thrive in both health and wealth.

In a way, community care is a form of self-care– studies indicate that giving back to the community boosts your happiness, health, and a sense of well-being. A 2013 study found that helping behavior, along with other types of social interaction, is associated with positive health outcomes, including reduced mortality.

Below are 5 ways you can care for others, and actively take part in building and empowering the community at large.

 

Check in

How many times have you checked up on someone, only to get satisfied by a not-so-convincing “I’m fine” answer?

Especially when you know the person might be going through a hard time, seeking to know how a person really is plays a big role in their wellbeing. Even if you are not in a position to actively help, this shows them that you care and are willing to listen to them— sometimes that is all they need. If you can help, then offer your support.  

 

Offer support (Be specific)

When it comes to community care, making a blanket offer does not cut it. Community care is about assessing the situation of a person in need, thinking of a way you can help, offering the help, and following through. This could be offering to babysit, creating a self-care kit, or simply offering to spend time (home visit, coffee, brunch) with a friend or family member.

 

Declutter and donate

Decluttering is one of the best ways to incorporate community care into your self-care practice. This conscious act is part of community care at various levels— getting rid of clutter in your home creates a clean and harmonious home for yourself and the people you live with. It helps the environment by recycling, thus making sure your unwanted and unused items are put to use by someone who needs them.

As you go about decluttering, take an extra step of separating the pile you do not want to keep into two: ‘donate’ and ‘throw away.’ Donate the ones that are in good condition, and throw away the damaged ones, because donating the latter defeats the whole point of helping.

 

Visit a local children’s home

Do not wait until you have “more money” or “more time” to visit a local children’s home. This altruistic act does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. However small your contribution, it goes a long way, and will be highly appreciated. This not only brings inner peace, but taking a Sunday afternoon to spend a few hours with the kids also gives you a whole new perspective towards life. Contribute and collect donations from a few friends, and together help put a smile on a child’s face.

 

Speak up against an injustice

Speaking up against injustices can be categorized as community care on a macro level, and some may perceive it above their level and/or beyond their ability to intervene. It should however not be left in the hands of activists alone. Speaking up against any sort of injustice or discrimination prevents it from happening to yourself and others someday. Do not be a by-stander— simply feeling bad in the event of an injustice, and keeping quiet gives the offender the power and courage to continue with the negative behavior.

It is also important to note that this need not involve violence, insult or hate speech; two wrongs can never make a right. Hold people accountable for injustice by logic, instead.

 

Both self-care and community care are vital to our well-being. Saying Yes to one should never mean No to the other. Each is an important component of wellness, whose integration creates a continuous system where everyone is able to give and receive, serve and be served, for the betterment of society in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.