“Shouting ‘self-care’ at people who actually need community care is how we fail people.”- Nakita Valerio
Unless you’ve managed to avoid the internet for the last few years, you are no doubt aware of self-care. Whether it’s a morning spin class, time alone with a book, or a yummy meal, self-care is the practice of taking an active role in tending to your health—both physical and mental. For many, mindfulness and meditation practices are important components of their self-care practice.
While this term has become a bit of a meme (see below), it is incredibly important to maintaining a balanced life and promoting happiness .
A new, complementary school of thought is emerging called community care. This practice focuses on individual actions that positively impact the community at large. These acts of interpersonal kindness and compassion can range from reaching out to a struggling friend, supporting local businesses, and picking up groceries for someone in need.
Minority communities have been promoting this concept for years as a way to address prejudice and promote cooperation. Through caring for communities, you not only benefit individually by becoming more connected, you also promote belonging for all.
Companies, many of which have embraced the self-care movement, are also promoting forms of community care through affinity groups, volunteer opportunities, and speaking out about issues online.
While the pandemic has isolated many of us and made it challenging to promote community care, there are many ways you can support the people around you as we emerge from quarantine:
- Keep up with your self-care: If you are taking care of yourself, you are in a better position to be a productive, compassionate member of your community. Supporting others doesn’t mean you should stop caring for yourself.
- Phone a friend: Check in with friends and family members who are having trouble coping during this difficult time. Or shoot a text to someone you care about who you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Keeping in touch and lifting each other up is critical.
- Stand up for a cause: Standing up for a cause is one of the most visible forms of community care. If you are not comfortable gathering in groups (which is understandable given the pandemic), donate to an organization helping your community. If you donate money, be sure to see if your company has a donation match program.
- Volunteer: Many companies have volunteer opportunities. Ask your manager or team lead for more information. Or search for an opportunity that aligns with your passions, whether it’s tutoring, organizing items at a food bank, or raising awareness for a cause on social media.
- Educate yourself: Many of us live in our communities, unaware of issues and challenges facing others. How many of us know the median income of our city? Do you know the names of your local officials? By understanding the forces at work in your backyard, you can take meaningful steps to initiate positive change and make your city a place of belonging for all.
How do you practice community care? Let us know in the comments below.