We hear the term “self-care” a lot when it comes to wellness, but the truth is we can’t always do this alone. Community care, in addition to self-care, plays a big role in taking care of our well-being.
Here are five ways to integrate community care into your wellness practice:
01. Share Your Resources and Learnings
Taking care of yourself or a family member who needs support (like a child with food allergies) can be exhausting at times. With food allergies, for example, there’s a lot of research involved, talking to doctors, scoping out restaurants… you know the drill. If you’ve already put in the effort to curate resources, like compiling a list of trusted doctors and restaurants, one easy step towards community care is sharing your learnings! This could take form in many ways: publishing your discoveries on the Spokin app or online via a blog or social media, creating a spreadsheet and sharing with others in your community, or making yourself available to chat with those facing similar challenges. Sometimes going the extra mile to help others and share your learnings can make a huge difference for those who might be struggling.
02. Check-in with Friends, Family, and Neighbors
Another easy way to practice community care is to simply check in with your loved ones and community members to see how they’re doing and if you can support them. This might just involve listening. If you’re unsure how to help, think about how you’d feel if someone checked in with you—what would you want them to ask or offer?
03. Contribute to Your Community
Community care should extend beyond the folks you know personally to your community at large. One way I love to practice community care is to donate to the local community fridge—it’s a simple, actionable way for me to feed my neighbors who are experiencing hunger. Other ideas include: shoveling your neighbor’s walk, volunteering at a local organization, picking up trash when you’re out for a walk, or checking in with organizations or leaders in your community to see what their needs are! There are lots of resources in the food allergy community for contributing—a great one to consider supporting is the Food Equality Initiative.
04. Ask For Help When You Need It
Just as we’ve discussed ways to support others, it’s important not to forget to ask for help yourself. Whether you’re seeking advice, recommendations, or a listening ear, let your community take care of you. Not only is it important that you realize you don’t have to do this alone, but you will also be modeling for others the beauty and power of community care. And if you feel self-conscious or unsure about asking for help, put yourself into the perspective of the person or group you’re asking for help. If someone asked you, how would you feel? Often, we are more than happy to help someone else but feel uncomfortable asking for the same when we need it. The Food Allergy Counselor Directory & Website is another great resource!
05. Advocate for Others
Finally, consider putting your resources towards advocating for others. Whether it’s donating time, money, your expertise, connections, or even amplifying a campaign via social media or to your friend group, supporting local organizations and community organizers goes a long way! This could mean connecting with and/or advocating for a foundation that advocates for children with food allergies, or perhaps you’re a lawyer and can review contracts pro bono, or a photographer who can help develop a website. See where you have the ability to give and plug into their needs!
Whether you have five minutes or a few hours a week, take time to think about how your wellness practices can support your community. And remember, there are times when self-care will be our sole focus—after all, we can’t take care of others until we take care of ourselves first.
Sara Weinreb is a writer, intentional business strategist, herbalist, and host of the Medium Well podcast. Sara’s writing on sustainability, wellness, mindful living, and mission-driven business has been featured in Forbes, mindbodygreen, USA Today, Byrdie, and Cherry Bombe, among others. When she’s not writing and shopping in the bulk section of health food stores, you can find Sara on the yoga mat, making herbal elixirs, having solo dance parties, and hanging out with her growing collection of plants. She shares her adventures and misadventures at @saraweinreb.