We’ll look back and remember 2020 as “the year we all spent at home”.
The opportunity to explore our own backyard has been a small beacon of joy in an otherwise bleak year. Maybe you’ve found a great park for your afternoon walks, or you’ve discovered a new coffee shop that you’d never noticed before.
And with everyone else in the neighborhood also staying home, we’ve had a chance to make new connections — like smiling at the mailman each day, or passing your neighbor as they walk their dog every evening.
By staying home and making our world more compact, we’ve been given the opportunity to participate in our local communities even more. As we enter the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to spread some cheer and love.
We can't get all our neighbors together for coffee. But there are other ways to show them kindness.
What are random acts of kindness —scientifically speaking?
Random acts of kindness are the gift that keeps on giving: your neighbors will be touched by your thoughtfulness, while you’ll get that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with doing good.
When we’re kind, our brain releases oxytocin — a.k.a the “love hormone”. Little boosts of oxytocin help us to form social bonds; promoting friendliness and empathy.
Studies have also linked acts of kindness to the production of the dopamine, a chemical messenger that delivers a hit of euphoria. If you’ve ever been just totally stoked about giving someone a great birthday gift, you’ll have felt these chemical changes yourself. These positive feelings are something weall experience when doing good — often called a “helper’s high”.
10 ways to spread cheer with your neighbors while social distancing
Desperate to get your own dose of oxytocin and dopamine right now? We can’t blame you.
The great news is, these happiness drugs are well within your reach. You don’t even need to leave your street to perform these 10 random acts of kindness — and they’re all COVID-safe, too!
1. Make and donate masks
It’s surprisingly easy to make a fabric face mask, and we all know how effective they are for limiting the spread of coronavirus. There are plenty of online tutorials, and it’s a fun way to pass the time while watching TV in the evening — you don’t even need a sewing machine!
Ask around to see if your friends or neighbors need any masks that you can drop around to their house. Bonus points for making masks with uplifting patterns and messages, too — like these from UK-based ethical brand, Birdsong.
2. Deliver treats
For health and safety reasons, we should avoid eating indoors with anyone outside of our bubble right now. But that shouldn’t stop you from sending food to other people — especially if they’re in need.
You could leave some store-bought goodies on their doorstep with a kind note. Maybe there’s a local, independent bakery or cake store that you can support at the same time? We know these businesses are vital to our communities and are struggling to make it through the end of the year. Let’s do what we can to support them.
3. Support your local food bank
Speaking of food... Many families are relying on charitable organizations to get through this difficult time, so check if your local food bank is looking for any particular donations.
Got some spare time to give, too? Across the US, public schools have coordinated programs to supply remote-learning students with lunches. But they need help with donations or spare pairs of hands. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website is a good place to start searching.
4. Write letters
It might seem alien in our world of emojis and notification “pings”, but writing letters issuch a thoughtful and personal way to reach out. It’s also scientifically proven to improve your happiness, which is why Heylow sells gratitude cards.
Don’t be threatened by the blank page! Just start writing and see what comes up. Tell them about the walk you had, the dinner you cooked, the TV show you’re loving, and ask them if they need any support in this strange and unusual time. It doesn’t need to be long. It just needs to be thoughtful and come from the heart.
Whatever it is you share, a handwritten note can go a long way!
5. Check in on your elderly neighbors
It’s nice to check in with any vulnerable people in your community, even if you’ve never met them before! Leave a note at their door or give them a phone call to say hi, then see if there’s anything you can help them out.
Chances are they’ll have family helping them already. But they’ll certainly appreciate the thought and opportunity for a chat. We’re a social species and loneliness can have dramatic negative impacts on our lives.
6. Support local business and independent sellers
The pandemic has hit small sellershardwhile massive corporations like Amazon are generating record profits. It’s important to support indie businesses in any way we can.
Connect with a local business owner — restaurant founder, hairdresser, nail technician, personal trainer — and see what you can do. Perhaps they’re offering gift cards and vouchers that you can buy now and use when they’re able to reopen fully.
If you can’t help out from a financial aspect, you can still support their business by leaving positive reviews online, on Google Maps and Yelp. This helps out small businesses way more than you may realize! Social proof is one of the most powerful tools for behavior change that we have. Even if you can’t afford to support your favorite small business, maybe your friends and family can.
7. Spread love
Figured you’d left chalk drawings behind as a hop-scotching kid? Think again! Leaving positive messages on the sidewalk can be a small and easy way to brighten someone’s day.
Even just a drawing of some hearts or a rainbow, or a message like “we can get through this” is a lovely thing to see while out on a walk. And who knows, other people might add to it, too!
8. Pay it forward
April 28th was global “Pay It Forward Day”. But you’re a bit of a rule breaker at heart, right? So why not pay it forward 365 days a year instead?
Next time you’re at your local coffee shop picking up an order, pay for someone else’s order as well. It’s a small thing for you, but ahuge surprise for the person you’re helping out. We know that positive interactions with strangers can have a big impact on our happiness. Why not help someone else have a good day and make yourself a little happier at the same time?
9. Have a distant, outdoor catch-up
Dry outside? Then grab your scarf and sweater and meet up with the neighbors on their doorstep or front yard.
Fall and winter aren’t typically the seasons for outdoor get-togethers, but 2020 calls for radical behavior! After all, it’s important to get some (distant) in-person socializing in between all the video chats and emails. Just avoid those “outdoor” enclosed “Covid Cabanas” you might see popping up around town.
10. Share the The Good Life Journal
The Good Life Journal is just one of the ways we’re looking to spread joy in our community. And maybe you can help us reach even further.
If you know someone who’d enjoy our content, sign them up! There’s no affiliate bonuses or discounts to claim (not yet, at least). We’re working on it. Until then, hopefully that “helper’s high” is payback enough.