Helping Others

Helping Others: 5 Tips for Staying Sane through the Process

It’s summer, the weather is beautiful, and you want to be hanging out with your loved ones. Only, the coronavirus is still out there.

It can be easy to get down in the dumps about social distancing. If we’re not careful, the strain can really take its toll. We’ve brought you ideas for socializing from a distance, taking care of yourself, and using creativity to bolster your relationships.

As the pandemic continues, here are a few more ideas to help you get through this time by helping others. Read on for our top 5 ideas for staying sane while giving back.

1 Write a letter

An actual handwritten letter put in an envelope with a stamp on it. Letters are rare these days. How excited would you be to find one in your mailbox? That’s what we thought. Write to a friend or family member and make their day.

Helping Others

2 Donate

You can donate your time or your resources. UChicagoMedicine has a list of places that can use donations including food, supplies, and even blood, which is needed now more than ever

3 Pick up trash.

There might not be as much of it lying around as during a normal summer, but beautifying your neighborhood’s parks and green spaces is a great way to give back while staying socially distant.

4 Check in on your friends and neighbors

Especially the elderly and those who live alone. You never know what someone might be going through. Your phone call or email could lift someone’s spirits on a difficult day.

5 Volunteer

Food banks and other community organizations always need volunteers. Social services around the country have been working overtime to provide food to families whose children depend on school meals for nutrition, and they are in need of volunteers. Spending a few hours helping others will help lift your spirits amid uncertainty.

Sometimes looking out for others is a form of self-care. We hope these tips have given you ideas for taking care of your community and yourself at the same time. Stay well and healthy.

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Get Creative

Get Creative: Stay Motivated, Positive, & Sympathetic with Your Inner Circle

You know friends and special others can help you land jobs. They can influence your mood and behaviors. You know that you can do the same for them. But what do you know about helping your favorite people develop their creativity and what that means for you? Let’s get creative!

Did you know that love, specifically long-term relationships, boosts your creative thinking? A study conducted by the University of Amsterdam concluded that people in long-term relationships have enhanced holistic thinking and therefore, creative cognition. It was also determined that these results had nothing to do with sexual encounters and therefore, the results can also be applied to long-term friendships and family members.

But why is creativity in a relationship so important? What does that mean for your love life, relationships, and friendships? Let us explain.

Motivation

Creative minds tend to be more motivated. Having a creative circle can help with motivation in any aspect of your life, whether it be your inner competitor, cheerleader, or empathetic self. Staying motivated and having motivated relationships can help you stay consistent with your goals.

Positivity

Creativity correlates with positivity. You would think you would have to be in a pit of despair to get your creative juices flowing, but the opposite is actually true. Staying positive can enhance your creativity, and being a part of a creative/positive circle can help you live a more fulfilling life.

Sympathy

Sympathy is beneficial to creativity. If you have a good support system around you at all times that shows you sympathy or to which you can show sympathy, you become more sensitive and attuned to others’ needs, which is a trait that fuels creative minds.

A Diverse Social Network

A diverse social network enhances creativity. As long as you remain open and share your thoughts honestly, having strong relationships with creative people can help open your eyes and mind to new ways of doing things, solving problems, and even encourage you to push past your current limits.

There are so many ways to enhance your creativity with friends, families, and significant others. From long, open conversations to trying new restaurants to the more traditional forms of art like taking art classes or playing board games, there are so many ways to remain active with your friends and family members. Whichever way works best for you, encouraging your circle to stay creative unlocks a whole new level of cool friendship! 

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Remote socialization

Remote Socialization: Virtual Activities to Try with Others During COVID-19

Many of us have been searching for new ways to safely spend time with friends and loved ones while safe at home. Luckily, many hobbies and endeavors can be enjoyed together with others remotely! Here are a few ideas to connect through remote socialization.

Book Clubs

Reading helps keep us entertained and mentally stimulated. It also gives us a great reason to snuggle up under a tree at a park or under a blanket on the couch. Share your experience with a group of friends by starting up a book club! Planning a book club will allow you all to enjoy new literature together. It will also provide a fun, structured way to chat with a group on a scheduled basis! Some groups change their book theme every new selection, while others stay on a set genre such as Science Fiction or Fantasy. You could also focus on works from a specific period, related to particular topics, or books from one author or publishing house. For a unique twist, try a cookbook club where you all attempt a recipe from the same book!

Remote socialization

Take a Class Together

Many esteemed colleges and institutes are providing select courses free of charge, such as Harvard, Khan Academy, and Yale. Take a class with some friends to continue your self-improvement journey together while cooped up at home. Courses cover topics from art history to food sciences, so there is bound to be something to pique everyone’s interest! Some masters are even offering their classes, such a Michelin Chef Massimo Bottura, who is leading an Instagram cooking course called Kitchen Quarantine.

take a class

Schedule Movie Nights

Many people are missing going to the theater together with tools like Netflix Party or Metastream to experience film together simultaneously. A hangout session like this is a relaxing way to feel like you are spending time with friends. Additionally, it doesn’t require an extensive input of energy. If you are looking to kick it up a notch, have every participant prepare a film suggestion from a theme and present all of the movies throughout the month. For example, have everyone pick a film from an individual director, genre, or featuring the same actor.

movie night

Share a Meal or Drinks Through FaceTime and Zoom

Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the company during dinner! Coordinate a time with friends to have a meal and spend time cooking and chatting over a video call app. To add another level of cohesiveness, cook from the same recipe together!

Alternatively, renew happy hour traditions over video with friends or co-workers. End the week on a light note and make it a regular occurrence after work on Fridays!

Share a meal

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Strengthening Bonds: Volunteer with Friends

Strengthening Bonds

If you’re looking to strengthen your relationships, or even forge new ones, there’s really no better bond than legitimately saving the world together–volunteer with friends! Chicago has dozens of volunteering opportunities right now and year-around. There is no shortage of options for friends to come together, roll up their sleeves, and help save the world. 

Think about it, chances are some of your fondest memories go back to when you’ve been part of a team. Working with friends is a guaranteed way to feed your soul through a sport, a cause, or even a job. It also allows tangible ways to give back to your community and build each other’s self-confidence. 

If volunteering is something that you’ve always felt called to do, ask your special other and friends to join you. You can use the added support for what can turn out to be a mentally exhausting activity. Together, you can play on each other’s strengths to tackle tough situations. 

Where can I sign up?

There are different ways of finding the right fit. You can go to the soup kitchens’ direct website by either yelping your nearest soup kitchen and then signing up directly through their website, or by signing up for a volunteer match website like volunteermatch.org where you can literally choose to be volunteered for anything from a crisis counselor to finding support for putting a nonprofit event together. 

If weather permits, you can even choose to have a “Beach Clean-Up Day”. It can end in a bonfire to reward yourselves for your hard work! 

The list is endless. If being a part of a group that helps strengthen each other’s value system sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee, no judgment), making a difference is only a signup sheet away. 

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities specifically geared towards a cause as a result of the current coronavirus emergency, please refer to local hospital, clinic, school, and restaurant websites. Many neighborhoods, towns, cities, and organizations are organizing a variety of volunteering efforts to help support essential workers in the community as well as healthcare workers. Don’t forget to support your local small businesses at this time, many of whom may not survive this crisis. Now get out there and volunteer with friends!

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

COVID-19 Boredom: Keeping in Touch with Loved Ones

The subject on everyone’s mind — COVID-19 boredom. It only took a global pandemic, but if this current state of affairs has taught us anything, it is to never take for granted our social gatherings (especially with friends and family) ever again. Humans need human interactions, and when we’re lucky enough to have them, we need to nurture them. This is imperative even from a distance! Below we’ve put together a list of a few social distancing ideas to help you and your special other connect with your friends and/or family from afar.

Zoom Out

Zoom isn’t just for work meetings. Use it to connect with friends/family and make the most of it by trying some of the following ideas:

  • Covid-19 BoredomStart a Book Club – Use an app like kindle to download the same murder mystery, then have a meeting to see who cracked the case first.
  • Use Social Media – In a bizarre twist of events, the social media apps that we once used to disconnect, can now be used for their intended purpose – to connect. Use fun filters, post your favorite recipes, and show off your current hobby on your favorite social platform!
  • Synchronized Show Watching – Pick a show you all agree on and binge it at the same time. Then, meet on zoom to let your emotions flow.
  • Play Virtual Games – Now is a good time to show off those charade and pictionary skills! Our personal fave is scribbl.io 🙂

Find a Way to Help Together

From sewing up face masks to donating canned goods, there is an outpouring of love, support, and community service from entire communities, without ever even seeing each other! Make a plan to donate or safely work together to help others get through this tough time. Even a simple hello can make someone’s day!

Go for a Walk (Apart)

If you live close enough, you can arrange to walk together on opposite ends of a street, or you can do a virtual walk and facetime/chat at the same time. Staying fit AND connected — multitasking at its finest!

These tips are great to help you through this time of isolation, but keep them in mind when your schedules get crazy again and life gets in the way again of you physically seeing your friends/friends. Stay safe everyone, and remember, we’re all in this together!

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

COVID-19: Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner While You Practice Social Distancing

COVID-19: Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner

Social distancing is HARD, especially as the flowers are starting to bloom and the sun is starting to come out. We get it. But it’s the right thing to do right now. Between the start of spring, longer days, new sports seasons, and the desire to spend more time outdoors, finding the motivation to stay indoors and away from people is difficult. This is especially harder for those in relationships, as the lack of excitement can leave the relationship feeling like hitting a wall. After navigating this phenomenon for the past few weeks, we want to share with you a few ways to improve your relationship with your partner in this time for self-care! Fortunately, there are so many activities couples can do indoors to keep the spark alive.

Cook together!

Find a website and/or app in which you pick a meal and the company sends you the ingredients needed to make that meal! Cooking together is a great way to try something new, while growing your relationship with each other.

Cook together Covid-19

Practice self-care

Some of our favorite solo self-care activities include reading, journaling, and planning. As a couple, we take this time to talk through the relationship. A great way to do this is saying things we love about the relationship, as well as things we can do to improve together. Having these conversations is so important to keeping the relationship prosperous.

Practice self-care

Play a new board game

There’s ALWAYS a new game on the market you’ve been wanting to try. Why not now? When else do you have countless hours on your hands to actually experiment with a new game?! Find it online, order it, and spend a few hours learning how to play it. Who knows – maybe you’ll become masters at it!

board game Covid-19

Catch up on your movie list!

We’ve all got that never-ending “to-watch” list. What a perfect time to binge watch them all! Especially if the wait has been due to conflicting schedules with your partner. You just HAVE to watch them together, right? Well, pull out that list and start watching!

Catch up on your movie list! We’ve all got that never-ending “to-watch” list. What a perfect time to binge watch them all! Especially if the wait has been due to conflicting schedules with your partner. You just HAVE to watch them together, right? Well, pull out that list and start watching!

Finish those side projects

How many separate lists of home projects and side projects do you have? Maybe a list of gifts to buy for upcoming birthdays and weddings? How about a DIY project you’ve been holding off on? Might be a good time to finish painting that wall you’ve been putting off. Or maybe finally clean out that kitchen pantry that’s been piling up expired foods that you didn’t realize. It’s a great time to cross off a bunch of items on your to-do lists!

Finish those side projects

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Double Trouble: Why Engaging with Other Couples is Important

Engaging with Other Couples

If you’re like most long-term couples, you are probably well past the honeymoon phase of your relationship and thus have experienced the unavoidable “married life” rut. The good news is there are many ways to keep it alive and thriving, with one of them being…you guessed it! Double Dating.

According to a study in Science Daily, double dating can be a great way to reignite passion for your significant other. Having another couple to share personal details with has been proven to help make you feel closer to your partner. 

Let’s face it, passion is one of the first things to go in a long-term relationship. It takes a lot of work to keep the passion train going and not surprisingly, the antidote to breaking that “dry spell” is introducing new options. 

So how exactly can you strengthen the bond with your partner via double dating? Glad you asked. See below for two expert tips.

Play the question game

This tactic has the power to solidify a couple’s unity and increase partners attraction to one another. In your next date night ask everyone in your group questions like… “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” or “If you could go back in your life and change any one experience, what would it be and why?” If you would rather stick to small talk you can try questions like “When was the last time you walked for more than an hour?”.

Get Out

The typical couple spends their free time “staying in” which can get pretty boring. Setting the commitment and feeling the pressure to make a “night out” worthwhile pushes you to try things outside your comfort zone which most of the time ends in you having a genuinely good time. Not only will you get to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, but it may be good for your relationship!

Introducing new experiences with another couple not only breaks the every-day mold, but such interactions have been proven to help us perceive our relationship in a whole new light.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Double Couple Competition: How to Put on a Cooking Challenge Evening

Double couple competition

Do you and your partner love to cook? If you and your couple friends are foodies, or just enjoy watching any of the myriad cooking shows on television these days, why not throw a mystery ingredient cooking challenge party?

Cooking challenge shows vary in their rules and complexity, so if there is a particular program that you love, feel free to adapt it to your liking. The plan laid out below allows for some friendly, mild competition for a group of four. If you prefer your competition a little more cutthroat, invite a few more friends over to serve as judges.

The rules

Each person is responsible for one dish: appetizer, entrée, side dish, dessert. Depending on the size and functionality of your kitchen, you can either all cook at the same time, two at a time, or one at a time.

The catch

Each individual will need to use a provided set of mystery ingredients to make their dish. You and your friends can decide how best to do this – will one person do all the shopping, or will each person create a mystery ingredient bag for a particular course?

To keep it fun and manageable for everyone, don’t make your mystery ingredients too outlandish, or too disparate. A combination of shrimp, navel oranges, cocoa power and bok choy? Challenging but doable. Rocky road ice cream, anchovies, turnips and eggs? Maybe not so much. 

Tips for success

Make sure your kitchen is well-stocked.  You’ll want a good selection of cookware as well as butter, oil, salt, pepper and spices. You may want to have staples on hand like Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, flour, corn starch and lemons. The more you have to work with, the more creative you can be! And don’t forget to plan for some fun cocktails or mocktails. You’ll need something to wash down the culinary masterpieces! 

Don’t forget to plate your dishes – after all, cooking show judges never fail to penalize bad presentation.  Then sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labors while you make your critiques (gently, now!). Since this is all for fun, the losers need not pack their knives and go. But you might want to make them do the dishes!

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