It’s a well known fact that joy is contagious. On our darkest days, a kind word, helping hand, and warm smile go a long way. These sentiments are needed now more than ever. Many reports note that depression and anxiety are on the rise amidst the coronavirus outbreak. This is not surprising considering the large impact it is having on everyone’s day-to-day lives, as well as on bigger life moments like graduations and weddings. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of simple ways we can all spread a little joy in our community and to our loved ones.
Have Fun With It
The great thing about spreading joy is that often you’ll find that it's just as rewarding to spread joy than it is to receive it! While these circumstances are odd, the coronavirus has led to an outpouring of communal support, celebration, and heartwarming acts of kindness.
- Become a Heart Hunter: One day while I was on Facebook, I got an invite to join a group called Heart Hunters. Intrigued, I clicked the notification and read the mission of this public group: to spread hope. The premise is simple. Use whatever materials you have on hand in your home and cut out or draw some hearts and hang them on your window. What started as a simple act of one sweet lady in Galesburg, IL, has turned into a global movement with hearts on the windows in every continent (yes, even Antarctica). Originally started as a socially distant alternative to typical scavenger hunts has now become a sign of hope and connectivity. People young and old are sharing their creativity and love by putting up a simple heart, though some are quite elaborate. Now, every heart feels like you have someone rooting for you. It may be a person you’ll never meet, but you know that you are both collectively trying to spread joy, and that is an undeniably strong connection. The next time you feel down, imagine an elaborate window display of hearts, and get cutting!
- Make Some Noise: Undoubtedly by now, you’ve seen the viral videos of neighborhoods from all over the world singing together to spread a spirit of camaraderie and support. The trend has taken over and there are now a variety of ways to get loud during this Stay in Place order that will help you feel connected, show support, and have a little fun. Cities across the world have coordinated window cheering to honor and encourage the brave healthcare workers. Some places have scheduled times to honor them by stepping outside and banging pots and pans as loud as you can. Bring the tradition to your own home and find a time to step outside and cheer. The western part of the United States has a strong following of howlers. This is where at 8 p.m. every night, large groups of people go outside and howl. They howl in celebration, they howl in grief for those they lost, they howl for the connection they crave. The governor of Colorado even publicly encouraged its residents to take part in the tradition. The moral of the story is that being loud and celebratory is cathartic. Even if you’re the only person on your block doing it, it might just be the cure to your stay at home blues.
- Play Kindness Bingo: Local favorite, Chicago Parent recently announced their Kind Kid Challenge, in which they ask Chicagoan parents and kids to play kindness bingo. They’ve created Kind Kid Bingo Cards and if your kid gets a Bingo, they’ll also receive a kind kid certificate. Not only is this a fun way to encourage kindness amongst our youngest citizens, it’s also a way to spur more creative acts of kindness for both parents and children alike.
From Weddings to Prom, many people are missing out on life’s big moments due to cancellations or postponement. While this is definitely a loss to be grieved, it also gives us another chance to get creative and build special and unique memories despite being physically separated from those we’d celebrate with. I’ve gathered a few viral videos and ideas from friends on how you can take the time to celebrate those in your life who are missing something special.
- Birthdays: Every day that we are staying in place is someone’s birthday. What’s usually a day filled with celebration and cake, now just feels like a party for one. That’s why I loved reading about how OHi team member Kathy Hoh’s family celebrated her son’s 18th birthday. Her parents surprised their family by decorating the front yard with streamers and signs, one of which encouraged anyone who drove by, to honk to celebrate. Throughout the day, friends would drive by and offer well wishes (from a safe distance) from their car. Other families I know have pulled off “Birthday Parades”. This is where they coordinated a bunch of friends of the birthday boy, all hopped in their cars, and drove by his house slowly to cheer, drop off gifts, and say Happy Birthday! Whether it's a surprise zoom call or creating an elaborate club experience for you and those you’re staying in place with, it won’t matter so long as you make their day special and help them know they’re remembered and loved.
- Prom: Glamorized in television and movies, prom has often been deemed a right of passage for many teenagers, which makes it extremely challenging for all graduating seniors who have had their proms cancelled due to the coronavirus. Luckily, people are resilient and have thrown smaller, cozier versions of prom. For one dad, that meant asking his daughter to put on her beloved prom dress and to have a Father-Daughter dance in their living room. One girl coordinated a TikTok prom and shared a series of videos to show the prep for the celebration. So string some Christmas lights in your living room and let your teenager dance their heart out in the comfort of your home.
- Graduation: While many schools haven’t hit their graduation date yet, many colleges have already cancelled or postponed their ceremonies. This is a crushing blow to any student who has worked tirelessly for four years to walk across the stage. It hasn’t happened yet, but you can be sure there will be an outpouring of digital, homespun graduation ceremonies to celebrate middle school, high school, and college graduations. While you have plenty of time, start planning one now, complete with the typical graduation song, a cap, and plenty of pictures. Don’t let this momentous occasion go uncelebrated.
- Weddings: Commonly, couples who planned on getting married during this season still are, they’re simply doing it at the courthouse and rescheduling the reception for a later date in the fall. Others are taking a more digital route by hosting a very small ceremony (less than ten people) and live streaming it for family and friends to be able to join and celebrate their union. If the couple is getting creative, be sure to find a fun way to show your support, buy them a gift from their registry or send them a video greeting. Just be sure to recognize them during this time.
- Baby Showers: Having a baby, while delightful, is also a stressful experience. Adding a global pandemic and stricter hospital regulations make it an even scarier situation. So to have your baby shower cancelled, a time that highlights communal support and the love of others to celebrate your family’s newest addition, is very disheartening. Taking a page from popular birthday party celebrations, many people are starting to do drive by baby shower parades, like this one. Other families are hosting digital baby showers, where they collect all the gifts people send them and open them on livestream, and play a few games. If your friend is expecting in the next month or two, consider finding creative ways to shower her with love.
- Adopt a Pet: Staying at home for long periods is causing many people to feel isolated. One solution many people have turned to is the adoption or fostering of pets from animal shelters. In fact, for the first time in its history, a Chicago animal shelter saw every dog adopted. This solution is great to help keep you active and spread joy to you and your family members. That being said, adopting an animal is a serious commitment for both time and money, and should only be done if you’ve assessed your situation and know you can support the animal.
- Get Sewing: With a high demand for face masks, many people have taken the charge to sew them at home and donate them to their local medical facilities. Join the fun and watch a tutorial online. Some families have turned it into their stay in place project, like this one in LA, and are donating masks to the community to help people fight the spread of coronavirus.
- Donate: While many people are buckling down on their finances, for those who are able, there are many needs all around us. From medical supplies, to supporting charities that help keep children from lower income families fed, there is sure to be a cause close to your heart that is in need during this time. Donate a hot meal to healthcare practitioners working tirelessly. Find some spare food around the house and donate it to your local food bank. Find a charity that hits close to home and contribute. Donate today to help spread joy to someone tomorrow.
While right now can be a heavy time for everyone, it’s important to band together and create little pockets of joy. Whether we are spreading joy for others, or creating happiness in our own homes by cooking and having an occasional lazy day, don’t forget to find the good. From our family to yours, we hope you are staying safe and healthy.