The most obvious first step? Donating blood. Generally, if you’re fit and healthy, aged between 17 and 66, and weigh more than 50kg, you can donate regularly – check blood.co.uk or download the NHS Give Blood App. And consider joining a stem cell register, too. Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK, and stem cell donations from matching donors save lives. If you meet the requirements, you can register with a charity such as dkms.org.uk or anthonynolan.org, which will send you a swab kit for you to free-post back (both request a £40 donation to cover admin costs).
Getting involved in supporting Covid-19 research is as simple as downloading an app. The Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London launched their DreamLab app in 2017 to help fight cancer, and now it’s being used for Covid-19 research as well. In a nutshell? It ‘crowdsources’ processing power from your smartphone while you’re charging it overnight. This creates a ‘virtual supercomputer’, which processes millions of calculations for scientists. If they had to work them out manually, it would take 300 years – but this way, it’ll take three months. It’s a no-brainer.
That our local communities – the people we know beyond close friends and family – really matter has become all too apparent in recent times. And it’s backed up by science: researchers at the University of British Columbia found that time spent nourishing these ‘weaker’ connections can help contribute to feelings of happiness and overall wellbeing. There’s no need to become best buddies with Doris from three doors down, but taking a few minutes for a chat could make a huge difference. Feeling more ambitious? Try mycommunity.org.uk, which can help you get started on all sorts of community projects.
Research has found that expressing our gratitude to someone in the form of a letter can help to increase our happiness levels in a way that feeling thankful, but not expressing it, can’t. To get the benefits, you need to write at least three letters (one a week for three weeks) to different people, expressing thanks about something that’s important to you. Time to put pen to paper…
Think minimal effort, with all the feels: such as search engine Savoo, which not only contributes to your chosen charity when you use one of its voucher codes or deals, but also donates a penny every time you make
a search. Then there’s Percent – an app you link to your payment card, so that when you order food from one of the outlets it’s teamed with (everything from Franco Manca to Subway), a percentage of your spend is donated to the charity you choose from a list of causes. Finally, the app Thinking Of You means you can send a message to a loved one to tell them they’re in your thoughts, while also making a donation to their favourite charity (or yours). Win-win!
It’s one of the oldest and most obvious forms of kindness, but research has shown that participation in voluntary work can have benefits for you, too – from better mental and physical health to greater self-esteem and life satisfaction. So what are you waiting for? Go to do-it.org to discover opportunities in your area. Or could you use your hobby for the greater good? Loads of charities are looking for people to make things. Check out lovinghands.org.uk, which represents various organisations that need your skills – to make clothes for the homeless or fiddle-mats for dementia sufferers, to name a couple.
Sometimes called metta meditation, this involves sending goodwill, kindness and warmth to others by repeating a series of mantras. Sound a bit ‘woo-woo’? Well, it makes you feel more connected to others and,
as a result, research suggests that regular practice will mean you start reacting more positively to people (while feeling more relaxed at the same time!). Love. Have a look on YouTube for guided meditations.
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