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How to Help When You Feel Helpless

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SMCVT chapter.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and for a lot of us worsens, it is easy to slip into the mindset of helplessness. We’re constantly bombarded with new information. A lot of the time this leads to information overload and a mental panic. With digital media we can’t even be sure the information we’re receiving is correct. That just adds to the stress. We also have to use the information we have access to to make pretty big decisions. Should you work from home? Should you cancel your trip? Can you go visit grandma? Is it even safe to go home to your parents?

white ceramic mug on white table beside black eyeglasses

If you’re anything like me you probably end up in an information and anxiety induced ball of what the fuck. There are no clear answers or decisions. It really sucks and it’s unbelievably easy to fall into the helplessness trap. So what can you do? First, take note of the things you have to be thankful for. If you have a home, food, and your health you are extremely lucky. If you have the ability to work from home, take time off, or in general do not have to worry about financial stability during the next month, you are even more lucky. It’s ridiculously hard to focus on the positives during a time like this when you’re also sacrificing a lot. But we have to be thankful for our situation, there are plenty of people in the world in much worse positions.


So now that we have a firm understanding of what we have and our situation, here’s what to do. Think about the community around you. Be cautious and still maintain social distancing strategies, but find ways to help out!


1. Donate money or canned goods to your local food banks:

    With potential layoffs and the closing of schools, there are a lot of community members that need meals. On top of that, with the public panic people are raiding grocery stores, making it that much harder to buy basic necessities. 


2. If you know of someone in your community that might be at a higher risk for complications, reach out (over the phone) to see if you can help them:

    Simple tasks that involve leaving the house can be daunting to those that are at a higher risk of complications. If you have an elderly neighbor or a friend has a compromised immune system, give them a call to see if there’s anything you can do. Just knowing that you’re there for them could relieve some of their anxiety!


3. Check in with your friends, all of them:

    Quarantines and social isolation can be extremely taxing mentally. The constant information pouring in can heighten anxiety and depression as well. Although we can’t physically be there for our friends we have the luxury of Facetime! Give them a call and ask how they’re doing, then truly listen. If you and a friend are both struggling make it a point to send each other one funny meme or gif everyday. 


4. If you don’t have to go, don’t:

    This applies to everything. Listen, I understand. You booked your spring break trip, you’re visiting a friend you haven’t seen in months, trust me it sucks. And on a smaller scale, if you can work from home, do it. If you can avoid being in close quarters with people, whether that’s at the mall or at a concert, do it. You could be a carrier of COVID-19 and not know for up to 2 weeks. This means that even if you feel fine you could be infecting the people around you. Here’s how I think about it, if someone was out and about because they felt fine but they ended up infecting my mom or dad, how upset would I be? So, it’s my job to not do that to anyone else’s mom or dad!


Everything is weird right now. There are no clear answers or paths. Tensions are high and it’s easy to feel small. But we do have a say in the matter. Encourage your friends and family to take some action to stop the spread and help their communities. Let’s stay connected and check-in on loved ones. Let’s play games with our families during the quarantine. And let’s treat our entire community like members of our family. This is scary and honestly sucks, but let’s do as humans do and make the best out of our situation!


5. Support small businesses that might be struggling:

      A lot of small businesses and business owners are having to close down shop during the pandemic. This might also include laying off employees temporarily. This hurts our entire community! If you can, order from them online, buy yourself a pandemic present or send one to your friend! If they don’t have a physical product available, buy a gift card! If we continue to support the small businesses in our town now, they’ll be ready to go when the pandemic ends!

Jewelry maker and business owner at Homegrown Jewelry VT. Business Administration Major with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and an Economics Minor.