The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Since around 2016, the world has experienced more and more traumatic events and realizations. As of lately (2020 and beyond), Covid-19 has been thrown into that mix. Whether it’s worrying about your new at-home position or feeling completely lost about the climate crisis, current events can cause stress in us all.
For those who feel deeply inspired to make a change, the current climate of things (literally and figuratively) can cause us to feel hopeless, scared, or downright desperate. Many people report feeling unable to make a change, as they are “just one person.”
The hopelessness felt by so many of us is scary, and it can feel insurmountable. However, there are ways to turn your fear, anger, and hopelessness into action. Here are some of the best ways to get started and make a change, even as “just one person.”
Find A Niche
It’s important to remember that even the best activists and the most passionate people cannot save the entire world on their own. There are billions of people on our planet, and it is true that a small fraction of them are doing something to help our current situation.
However, this doesn’t mean that they’re not helping. Many of these people and non-profit organizations have a specific niche to which they dedicate their lives and time. For some, this is feeding countries that have famine. For others, it means providing schooling for every child. For you, it could be anything, from climate change education to helping women receive birth control in poor communities.
Choose whatever topic you are most passionate about. Even if you can’t help every single social cause in the world, you can put a lot of good time and energy into something you care about, knowing that other people are doing the same all over the planet with other causes. If you care a lot about causes that don’t get a lot of support or recognition, it might be time to focus your energy on that!
Remember That Helping One Person Is Enough
A big cause of feeling “depleted” or hopeless about current events is feeling that you can’t do enough as one person. The most important thing to remember is that even helping one person is enough, and it makes a change. Even if you offer one small piece of advice and it changes someone’s life forever, you’ve done an amazing thing.
Often, helping one person at a time is what brings us to the point where we can help larger groups. Even if you don’t have the resources to start a non-profit or build homes or donate millions of dollars, you can help by joining a volunteer organization or donating your labor.
If you can’t donate your labor, are sick, or have trauma yourself, you can still support people creatively or with your words. There are countless ways to help the world get to a better state, and it all starts with helping one person, even if that person is yourself in the beginning.
Take Care Of Your Mental And Physical Health
Going off of that point, it’s extremely important to take self-care measures daily to make sure you’re mentally and physically strong. Even being in nature can help your mental health greatly. Current events can be traumatic and scary for many people. If you are in a dysregulated state and your nervous system is not functioning properly, you’ll likely burn yourself out trying to help others.
It’s not selfish to take some time for yourself or to take some mental health days. Even the most powerful activists get burnt out and stressed. We are all human, and we cannot save billions of people alone. However, you can make a change. That change starts with the kindness and space you give to yourself.
One way to incite change in the world is to inspire others through example. Don’t wait around for those in your life to make changes if they don’t want to. Continue to post about the things you feel passionately about and ignore it if someone unfriends you or blocks you.
Share information about your expeditions, volunteer trips, and opportunities that you know of. If someone is interested or finds your work inspiring, they’ll likely join in or take a look at it on their own time.
Don’t feel like you need to force others to do something, but gently guide people into learning more by always sharing your experiences and opinions and having open discussions.
Volunteer In Your Area
The best place to help the world is within your own community or within a specific community that needs something that you understand how to offer. For example, perhaps your community struggles with diversity acceptance. You can volunteer to lead diversity workshops in your area.
On the other hand, if you prefer to relocate and help somewhere else, there are many ways to do so. You can even find jobs in social and environmental causes that allow you free room and board for doing volunteer work in a certain area.
Some communities need more of something than others. For example, you may want to join a volunteer group in the Amazon to rebuild homes for Indigenous tribes.
Or perhaps you want to help teach children in poor communities in Africa. Always look for opportunities led by the community themselves so that you know that your presence is wanted and needed and that you’re not going in to “teach” or offer something that wasn’t asked for.
Donate When You Can
If you aren’t able to physically leave home or help your community with physical labor, you can always make donations. Even a small donation of a dollar each month can help a non-profit organization or group of people make a change.
Donating directly to people in need can also help. If you want to, consider paying for a homeless person’s hotel for the night or bringing them a “hygiene basket” with items they might need. Even small acts of kindness can make a difference.
It can feel very scary and hopeless to think about current events and how you can help solve them. If you want to learn more about the mental health aspect of this, check out BetterHelp’s online advice column today. You’re not alone in feeling this way, and it’s people like us who can change the world.