The back of a woman as she stands in front of beautiful mountains in the distance

When life is spinning, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, our health is on the line and plans become uncertain, how do we keep our hearts well and healthy? We make encouraging and giving to others a priority.

Philosopher and author Dallas Willard once shared about the value of caring for others in hard times. He wrote, Those with well-kept hearts are persons who are prepared for and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that are good and right.”  

Not only does this attitude of “responding in ways that are good and right,” lifts us up and out of our disappointment, but it prevents us from becoming embittered by what is going on around us.

This attitude of “responding in ways that are good and right,” lifts us up and out of our disappointment.

Psychological research shows that encouragement helps people to succeed, not just in the daily hustle but in every aspect of life because it speaks to who they are. Encouragement doesn’t deny reality or ignore the problem, but it does prevent the problem from becoming our focus. It is one of the most common ways through which individuals express support for one another, which fosters community and builds people’s self-esteem. What better time than during a virus outbreak to express support for one another?

Here some practical ways we can be an encouragement to others during the global pandemic being felt around the world:

Send gifts to people.

There’s nothing like receiving an unexpected gift from someone, that communicates, “I’m thinking of you.” Whether it’s just because you felt like it or because the person is going through a particularly hard time with challenges coming at them left, right and center, gifts communicate value and importance. Gifts represent sacrificial love and, in turn, show someone that you remembered them throughout your day. 

Reach out via email, text or letter.

With the pace of society increasing by the second, time to reach out to loved ones and friends is often put on the back-burner. Taking a moment to message your friends via text, email or even writing a good, old-fashioned letter with encouragement, is bound to make someone smile. You’d be surprised what two or three sentences can do to sir some much-needed strength to the soul. Be specific with the words you use and describe why the person makes you feel how you feel about them. 

If someone I know is going through a particularly hard time, then I’ll ask if I can make a point of calling them every two days or so to check in. Sometimes, people need space. Other times, regular contact with light-hearted conversation can be good for the heart. 

Make a gratitude list.

For some people, this is their default in times of difficulty. I’ll never forget the time a dear friend of mine sat me down in the middle of a crisis and asked me to make a list of things I’m thankful for. It helped me stay hopeful and positive in the midst of hard circumstances that, in reality, I had no control over. I did have control over my thoughts. Gratitude became a key ingredient to ensuring I had a “well-kept heart,” as Willard wrote. 

Make a delicious dinner for those in your home.

While we are in a time of social distancing worldwide, you can engage with the people in your home. Whether it be your spouse, your roommates or your kids, tell your roommates that you’re making them dinner tonight. Spend time choosing a recipe. Enjoy the preparation and the joy of blessing someone else.

Take time to sit with friends around a table. Eat a delicious home-cooked meal. This will provide a welcomed break from the stress that a crisis can bring. It communicates, “I value and see you. You are important to me.” 

Help them find a job.

There are plenty of job portals and agencies that are posting for online work at the moment. Help someone find a job by researching local places that are hiring for food take-out or delivery or digital work.

Is there a skill you can make a profit from—whether it’s teaching or graphic design? Can you build an online portfolio for it? Take the time to revamp your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it. Supermarkets are also inundated with customers at the moment. It is worth reaching out and inquiring about openings too.

Commit to acts of service.

With the spread of COVID-19, many of us are confined to our homes, but there are still acts of service we can do. Buy someone groceries. Pay someone’s bills. Clean someone’s car.

Sometimes, people need practical help with the basics if their lives are overrun, and they are tired. It simply communicates that you love them whether they’ve got it all together or not.

Pick up their shopping.

If you’re running to the store to get your groceries, then offer to pick up a friend’s essentials too while you’re there.  Sometimes a culture of independence can cultivate the reverse effect, creating people who are used to doing things by themselves but are craving community, help and a place to belong. You can encourage someone and affirm their value greatly by offering to help with these day-to-day tasks. 

Buy from small and local businesses.

Among those taking the greatest hit at the moment are the local businesses. Most of these places, however, are still doing take-out or door-dash-delivery. Help out the community by putting in an online-order for essentials. You never know what family you are helping to keep afloat during this difficult time.

Through every season of life, whether good or bad, we need to be people who bring encouragement to the world. Encouragement brings hope, and hope brings water to dry places. 

Do you know anyone who can use encouragement today? In what way can you be of encouragement to people through this global crisis?

Image via Madeline Mullenbach

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