How do I practice community care?

Most people know and try to practice self-care, but we must also care for the people around us to create a culture where everyone thrives.

What’s the difference between self-care and community care?

Self-care is the practice of doing things for yourself to maintain your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. 

Self-care can look like:

  • Eating healthy meals
  • Exercising regularly
  • Seeking therapy
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Meditating or praying
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Listening to music
  • Making resolutions

Community care goes a step further. It’s the practice of showing care, compassion, and support for people around us. Community care doesn’t come at the expense of self-care because you can practice both at the same time to promote everyone’s well-being, including your own. 

Community care recognizes that not all people have access to the same resources, like free time and money, and that it takes a village to ensure everyone’s health. Community care encourages people to understand our well-being is everyone’s responsibility, not just individuals.

How can I practice community care with my loved ones?

You probably already practice community care with your friends and family without even realizing it! We are taught to care for each other from an early age in many ways.

To practice community care with your loved ones, you can: 

  • Listen and empathize when others are going through something difficult  
  • Offer support
  • Regularly check-in to see how someone’s doing
  • Share your resources
  • Babysit so caretakers can get free time
  • Send care packages if someone is sick 
  • Defend someone if they’re being taken advantage of or bullied

How can I practice community care in my community?

You should extend care to those beyond your inner circle. If more and more people take the initiative to look out for each other, we start building a culture that heals and supports growth. 

To practice community care in your community, you can:

  • Get to know your neighbours
  • Volunteer at food banks, shelters, crisis call centres, etc.
  • Donate things you don’t need 
  • Thank workers who help or serve you by their name
  • Vote for politicians who promise to bring the change you want to see in the world
  • Raise awareness around issues you care about
  • Stand up against injustices you witness
  • Start or join a mutual aid network
  • Help seniors 

How can I practice community care at school or at work?

School and work are places where you spend a majority of your time. It can be draining if you feel isolated or just check in and check out for the paycheque. Building positive relationships with your peers can go a long way in fostering learning and growth.

To practice community care at school or at work, you can:

  • Create support groups 
  • Invite people to have lunch with you
  • Take time to address issues as they come up
  • Socialize with your classmates or coworkers during your free time
  • Share interesting events or workshops
  • Help others with their projects 
  • Celebrate special events and holidays

How can I both give AND receive community care?

It’s important not to deplete your energy as you care for others. Community care should not eliminate self-care. If you feel like you’re not getting back the love you’re putting out, maybe others don’t know how to show care or that you need it.

To be cared for by your community, you can:

  • Call up a friend if you need to talk
  • Send out a birthday wish list 
  • Ask for support and be as specific as possible
  • Accept support when it’s offered
  • Participate in group activities

Just like anything else, practicing care, whether for yourself or for people around you, is a skill you need to build intentionally.