by Lis Armstrong
Life has looked a whole lot different for all of us lately, but right now it’s Victoria (and so many other cities) that is really doing it tough. Coronavirus has hit our locked down friends pretty hard, with the latest restrictions bringing curfews, more business closures, and a whole lot of isolation and uncertainty.
The good news is, despite being hundreds – or thousands – of kilometres away, there’s still things we all can do to help our locked down friends through the next few weeks and months. Now more than ever it’s important we remind them this won’t last forever, that they’re not alone, and, most importantly, that they’re loved. So how can we do that?
Here at Treat Dreams HQ, we’ve seen something pretty special unfolding: an increase in surprise deliveries to Victorians. We get order addresses in states from all over the country, but lately we’ve seen a huge jump in gifts being sent from other states to locked down locations.
It’s heartening to know the TD community across the country are supporting their friends with seriously sweet care packages, and it’s got us thinking. Life really is sweeter with support from friends, so we’ve put together this list of ways you can show up for your mates – even if you can’t show up at their door. Because we all need a little sweetness to get through tough times.
We also know many of us are doing it tough financially too, so we've included low cost and free ways to show the love as well.
A lot of your mates are probably missing café brunches and boozy happy hours right now, so this is a great way to extend social eating across states. Simply decide on a menu, set a time, and enjoy cooking or eating the same meal together. Competitive? Even better. It’ll be like My Kitchen Rules… except you’re judging yourself.
Show your friend you care by paying for their next pamper session, grocery shop, or a fun new experience. Buying gift cards to your friend’s local grocery store, hairdresser, or beauty salon is a super sweet way to give your best bud something to look forward to. You can even spice things up a bit with a gift card for an adventurous experience – an art class, wine tasting, or wine-and-dine river cruise. Buying gift cards or store credit for use later will also help local businesses to make it through the worst of the pandemic – now that’s a reason to dig deep, if you can.
If your mates are cash-strapped, they might have scrapped the little digital luxuries that make being stuck at home that little bit more bearable – think subscriptions to Spotify, Netflix, Stan, or Audible. Now’s the time to suss out if your friends have given up one or more of their fave streaming services, and ask if you can spot them for a while.
And when we say snail mail, we really mean it… While postal delivery has slowed down to a crawl right now, getting something in the mail right now can make all the difference. Whether it’s a simple card or handwritten letter, or an all-out care package, surprising your locked down friends with a package in the mail will make their day. If you want to be super extra, try themed parcels – like chocolate and sweets, self care, personal pampering or memory boxes.
Whether it’s Thursday or not, everyone loves the warm fuzzy feeling of recalling great memories with friends. Remind your mates just how much you value their company by posting an old photo online with a heartfelt caption. If you’re not the public-posting type, a genuine, loving DM or even email sent out of the blue is a great way to remind someone you care.
Unless you really need to, now is not the time for a digital detox. Using the internet to stay in touch with locked down friends is pretty vital right now, but it’s also easy to let days and weeks slip by without reaching out to them online. Make a concerted effort to engage in your friends’ online posts – like and comment on their selfies, and tag them in memes, cat videos, and good news posts – or whatever floats their boat. These little actions really add up.
Is your friend a small business owner? Maybe their partner is, or their family member? If you’re not in a financial situation to spend big at their online stores, writing online reviews is a great non-monetary way to show small businesses – and your friends - your support. Ask your mates which local businesses they love, and whether it’s a glowing Google Review or five-star feedback on Facebook, your support will go further than you think. Don’t forget to chuck those small businesses a follow on Insta or Facebook, too!
Time really is money, so think about the services you can offer your friend. You don’t have to be a lawyer or accountant to help out – just being an extra set of eyes on the document they’re working on is invaluable. Maybe they’ve got a side hustle going and could use a brainstorming session? Maybe you’re a social media whizz or graphic designer and can provide valuable work to their small business? Remember, networking is everything – even if you can’t help them directly, you might know someone who knows someone – doing that legwork is priceless.
This is a great way to remind both you and your friends that this too shall pass. While travelling isn’t possible right now, it will be one day, and you can use your time now to plan the best holiday you’ve ever had. This is a great mood boosting activity to share with your locked down buddies in particular. Or, you can come up with an itinerary on your own to surprise them. Why not go all out with a PowerPoint presentation and holiday mood board?
The reality of the situation is things really suck right now, and some of your friends probably aren’t coping as well as it may seem. It’s hard to tell how someone is really going when you can only talk to them on the phone or via text, so it’s super important you take the time to check in with your friends properly. It’s also important not to spring loaded questions about mental health on them unexpectedly. Instead, offer a time in the next few days to catch up properly via Zoom or FaceTime – over a coffee in their lunch break, a wine after work, or brunch on the weekend. Give them the space and time to really open up, and don’t forget to follow up in the days and weeks afterwards.
If you’re worried about a friend, especially if they’re isolated, Mental Health Australia has an extensive list of support services that can help people through some of the challenges they’re facing.
How have you shown people you love them from a distance? Or what would help you right now? We’d love to know what sweet ideas have gotten you through the coronavirus pandemic so far.
Lisette is the Founder of Treat Dreams, making it her fault that you've discovered treats you can't stop eating. She's highly distractible... so naturally the search for *proper* vegan chocolate took her away from the corporate marketing future she'd planned. Originally the TD Chocolatier, these days Lis plans the things and is grateful for her amazing team who make/do the things! Originally from Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland, Lis grew up surrounded by mountains, strawberry fields and beaches, and now calls Sydney's (much busier) inner west home. She's step mum to an almost fully grown human, plus cat mum to Knuckles (the actual definition of a scaredy-cat) and Cali.
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