What is Community Care?
Self-care is a readily understood concept, but community care could be more important. Community care is the support you receive from friends, family, and neighbors.
This could be as simple as an encouraging text message from a friend or an elaborate meal train organized by your church after you have a baby. Community care is borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbors or letting your mother-in-law help with the dishes after dinner.
It may sound straightforward like these are things good friends and family just do, and it is. However, in this day and age, it can be difficult to feel comfortable in a community and to learn how to accept help.
Self-care is all the rage these days. Google the “importance of self-care” and you will find millions of articles on the topic. And while self-care is vital, it isn’t the whole picture.
Alone time and relaxation help us to manage stress, unwind, and reflect on our lives. In excess, however, these things can be isolating and even give you tunnel vision. We need others to reflect our ideas back to us. Being around people can be grounding.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. I know when I haven’t been out of the house in a couple of days, I feel off. In that case, the care I need is from my community of friends, not from soaking alone in a bath.
The western world values individualism. And while self-sufficiency is valuable, it ignores the human part of us who is dependent on others.
There is no such thing as a truly independent person. We depend on others for everything in our lives, from the packaging of our food to maintaining the streets we drive on.
People Want to Help
There are many conveniences about the modern world. We don’t have to beg people for rides anymore, we can just call an Uber. Need to relay information? You don’t have to actually talk to someone, you just need to shoot them a text.
These are wonderful inventions, but as a result, it’s rare in modern life to be asked for help. You don’t need to call up your grandmother for advice on your love life, you can just Google it.
However, asking for help is how we connect with one another. Favors and good deeds fill up emotional cups. Every time you say no to someone offering help, you become more distant.
Why It’s Hard To Say Yes To Help
If it is so beneficial, why is it so hard to say yes to help? Partly, it’s out of habit. You’re used to doing the “polite” thing and saying no. However, I’d like to argue that it is more polite to say yes.
It’s like someone giving you a compliment. Not graciously accepting the compliment is rude, just as it’s rude to say no to someone who offers to help you do the dishes after dinner.
Another reason it’s difficult to say yes to help is that it makes you feel vulnerable. Admitting that you need help may make you feel weak and needy. But we all have needs. Having needs makes you human.
You also might have a particular way you like to do things, and someone coming into help would just “mess” up your system. To put it bluntly, this is you being a control freak. There is no shame in it, I am definitely a control freak at times.
However, controlling everything all the time is exhausting. Seriously exhausting. Just because someone does a task differently than you, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, just different. It could even be better.
Don’t correct them, and don’t go in after and fix it. Just say thank you. Take a deep breath, and put your feet up for a little while.
Reaching Out For Community Care
When you are going through a tough time, you don’t have to do it alone. Tell your friends and family what you are struggling with. Be vulnerable and admit that you are having trouble handling everything.
Reach out to leaders in your community. This could be the leader of your bible study or the head of your writer’s group. If you aren’t a part of a community yet, join one! Local churches will have plenty of community groups and opportunities to volunteer and get connected. Or you could look into whatever your interests are.
Being a part of a community will also foster personal development and self-discovery. We grow through relationships. When you are around people, they act as a giant mirror, reflecting your actions back to you.
Community care is about being present and showing up for others. When you are part of a larger cause, something bigger, you will never truly be alone.
Examples of Community Care
- Meal train
- Help to move
- Tea and sympathy
- Making you dinner
- Help with cleaning or home projects
- Community groups
- Encouraging text message
- Care package
- For writers: A friend offering to read your work
- Emergency ride
- The knowledge that you have someone to count on
- A cup of sugar from a neighbor
- Help cleaning up after dinner