You can still lend a helping hand to your local community while staying home.

Across our great nation, health authorities are recommending people stay home, and so far, 20 states are implementing stay-at-home orders, with many more to follow. These restrictions are important for keeping our communities safe, but they can also make it tough to care for ourselves and for our neighbors and loved ones who are isolated.

If you’re looking for ways you can help others while practicing social distancing or following shelter-in-place restrictions, here are 10 great ideas.

1. Check in with elderly, disabled, and at-risk neighbors to see if you can pick up groceries or order them something online.

If you have elderly or disabled neighbors or neighbors who could be at risk due to medical issues, get in contact to see if they need help. It’s best to give them a phone call, but if that’s not possible, you can use social distancing practices and stop by in person. Ask them if they need help running errands, getting groceries, picking up pet food, or anything else that comes to mind. You can also order items online, such as on Amazon, and have them delivered to their address, or you can drop their packages off.

2. Get crafty and make reusable fabric medical masks for yourself, neighbors, and even local medical facilities.

Manufacturers are still struggling to keep up with the demand for medical masks. You can help your family, neighbors, and local medical facilities by making reusable face masks. Break out your sewing machine or see if you can borrow one, gather up the fabric and elastic, and get crafting. The Deaconess website has a fantastic web page with instructions on how to make the face masks, as well as where you can donate the ones you make.

3. Take the time to ask others how they are doing, including essential employees who are still working during the quarantine.

Nothing beats the warm feeling of someone personally reaching out to you and wishing you well when things are tough. Right now, things are tough for everyone, and taking the time to individually contact those important to you is a wonderful idea. Ask them how they’re doing, show empathy, listen to their worries, and just be a friend. Don’t forget about your grocery store cashier and other important employees who are still working. A cheerful smile and some words of appreciation can change their day for the better.

4. Set up a Facebook group or use a neighborhood social media platform like Nextdoor to connect with your neighbors.

If your neighborhood doesn’t have a private Facebook group, now is a great time to set one up. There are also other popular sites like Nextdoor that are specifically designed to help you connect with your neighbors. Using these social media platforms to come together as a community helps keep everyone in the know and gives you a chance to broadcast your ability to help with errands, meals, and whatever else you would like to offer.

5. Reach out to neighbors privately to see if they need help in case they would rather not publicly ask for assistance.

You may have neighbors that need help but may not want to reach out publicly. It might be pride, or they may believe they really don’t need help as much as others. The reason why isn’t important, but what is important is to privately reach out to those around you. You might find that your help is welcomed and appreciated.

6. Support your local charity organizations through donations or, if you’re low-risk and able, through volunteer work.

Local charities and nonprofits that rely on fundraising events for support are getting hit hard right now. Other important local organizations from animal shelters to churches are also feeling the effects of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. You can continue donating to these organizations to help them stay afloat. In some areas, you may also be able to volunteer your time handing out meals or emergency supplies.

7. Regular video chats are a great way to keep a physical connection, especially when an individual is in self-isolation.

Text messages are quick, and phone calls are convenient, but nothing beats seeing someone you care about in person. Video chatting on Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Skype is completely free and lets you keep a physical connection in a virtual manner. If someone close to you is currently in self-isolation, daily video chats can help them remember that they’re not alone.

8. Fight against the waves of negativity and stressful news by sharing positivity on social media.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse at this time. It allows us to connect with others easily, but it also serves as a source of stress, triggers anxiety, and quickly spreads false information. You can fight against negativity by taking the time to share positive posts, whether it’s accurate figures on recovery rates or even a cute cat video. Smiling and appreciating the little things is so important right now, and social media can really be a tool for positivity when used correctly.

9. Use a food delivery service to send a hot meal to someone who might be unable to cook.

You can use delivery services like GrubHub or Postmates to deliver meals from local restaurants to anyone who you’d like to treat to a free dinner. A wonderful thing about these services is that you can use them for friends or family living in a different city or even across the country. Most popular pizza chains will also deliver to other addresses as long as you pay upfront using their mobile app.

10. While you’re busy caring for others, don’t forget to take time to care for yourself.

Caring for others is a wonderful feeling and is extremely fulfilling. But make sure you’re not putting your own needs aside in the long run. Self-care is important for relieving stress and tension and boosting your immune system, which are all very important things during this time.

While you’re helping others, make sure you’re still eating healthy meals, exercising, and taking time to truly relax and decompress every day. You’ll find that the better you take care of yourself, the better you can continue caring for others.

Ada Smile Place is helping to keep the community safe with a temporary break, but we’re still available for urgent appointments.

Based on safety guidelines offered by the American Dental Association, Ada Smile Place will be postponing elective and non-urgent dental appointments. You can look for updates on our temporary closure on our website or on our Facebook page.

If you, a loved one, or a neighbor is experiencing a serious dental problem during this time, we will still be in our office to handle these emergencies. During regular business hours, you can call our office to book a visit. For after-hours emergencies, please call the emergency phone number listed on our home page.