COVID-19
has shaken our world, leaving thousands struggling with anxiety and stress. On
a smaller scale, I know what those emotions feel like. Growing up with a
disability, I encountered a lot of anxiety: Will I ever live independently? What
will my employment options look like?
These fears nearly overwhelmed
me.

Fortunately, I discovered a way to lessen the anxiety swirling
in my head. In my family, helping others was a priority. My mom regularly cooked
dinner for a neighbor recovering from surgery. On any given week, we were collecting
cans for yet another food drive. I thought the only beneficiary was the recipient.
Then I started
implementing my own service projects, and I saw an added beneficiary: myself.

In high school, I partnered with local businesses to pack shoeboxes of toys and socks for children. The money from the bake sales I administered helped a family purchase a goat and become self-sufficient. In college, I led a campaign giving 5,000 books to local foster children. Focusing on others was like a balm for my stress—allowing me to both keep perspective on my own life as well as temporarily shelve my own worries.

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our health, our jobs, and
our future, many are facing relentless anxiety. But there is hope. Research has
shown us how: volunteering. Most importantly, volunteering helps relieve the anxiety
we are all feeling. Other benefits are combatting depression, keeping us mentally
alert, and giving a sense of purpose.

Here
are ways to help right now while helping yourself stay mentally well.  

  1. Pack boxes at a food pantry
  2. Deliver groceries to an older adult
  3. Give blood
  4. Organize a mutual-aid network 
  5. Volunteer virtually

The Corporation
for National and Community Service also offers additional ideas.

How are you helping your community during this time?

The post Giving Back During COVID-19: Finding Solace In Volunteering appeared first on The Arc.

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