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4 Ways to Give Back When You’re Chronically Ill

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I don’t know if you’re like me, but chronic Lyme disease has made me a more compassionate person. I was a caring person prior to facing Lyme disease, but my perspective has been fine-tuned in these years of sickness. I have a firmer grasp on kindness — on how humbling and moving it is when you’re on the receiving end of someone “giving back.” I’ve learned to cultivate an attitude of giving, even in a time when I feel I have very little (or nothing at all) to give.

But how do you give back when you have no money to spare, or when you’re physically limited? How about when you don’t feel you have the emotional margin to help someone else?

There are a few creative ideas I’ve discovered that give those of us who are disabled from chronic Lyme disease an opportunity to support others. To give back in an authentic and meaningful way that will cost little to nothing. And some of these give an outlet to all the knowledge and experience we’ve gathered throughout Lyme disease treatment and healing.

Giving Back to the Chronic Lyme Disease Community

1. Start an email newsletter.

One way you can give back is by sharing what encourages you. You could start by collecting the links to various blog posts or quotes that were inspiring or helpful. Then use a free email list service like MailChimp to easily collect subscribers and craft beautiful emails to send out. You can share your mission in various chronic illness support groups to get the word out. Or, even reach out to one of your favorite bloggers to see if they would let you write a guest post about your newsletter!

2. Donate to charity through your Amazon purchases.

Did you know that you can donate to your favorite charity just by making your purchases on Amazon? Last year, I started doing this, and it’s a simple, no-added-cost method of giving back. The Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to your selected charity. You can read all about the program here and follow the instructions to select your charity. Just be sure that each time you shop you start at Smile.Amazon.com — it’s easy to forget, trust me! But that’s the only way your purchase is recorded, and your charity earns their donation.

3. Engage in an online community group.

While it’s true we join online community groups to find encouragement for ourselves, it’s also a powerful outlet to connect with others who need support during Lyme disease treatment. Simply by interacting with others who post, sharing your knowledge or ways you cope with the many effects of living with illness is invaluable to someone in need. I’ve built so many friendships through online networks and while these friends have poured into me so much, I know that I’ve been able to do the same for them. Never underestimate the gift of offering a listening ear and a kind heart. The world needs more of that.

4. Grow your hair.

Yep, you read that right! Did you know you can donate your hair to organizations that will make wigs for those who’ve lost all of theirs? You need a minimum of eight or more inches, depending on the organization, so start growing now! After growing out my hair last year, I chopped it off and donated my locks to Children with Hair Loss. They’re a great organization that gives a hair replacement and care kit to over 300 children every year, without ever charging a dime. To donate your hair follow these instructions. You will have to cover the cost of shipping the hair, but it didn’t cost me more than a few dollars.

With Lyme disease treatment, must of us are on a tight budget and don’t have to have loads of extra money (or any money, for that matter) to be able to give back in this limited life we’re living. Illness takes so much from us, it’s true. But our compassion, our kindness and our creativity are forever ours. And it might be just the thing someone else needs from you today.

What low or no cost items would you add to the list of ways to support others in need?

This article was first published on ProHealth.com on October 16, 2016 and was updated on September 15, 2020.


Kami is a wife, writer, sister and friend, living in the beautiful southern Oregon. Tacos, yoga pants and watching FRIENDS on repeat are a few of her favorite things. She’s been battling chronic Lyme disease for many years and has faced her share of trials and loss. She shares her pursuit of grace and healing in the midst of the deserts of life on her blog, Living Grace. Through writing, her heart and purpose are to bring light and comfort to others facing their own trials. You can follow Kami on Instagram.

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