Tatiana Youpa, who volunteers with the North Brooklyn Mutual Aid Network to help fill and maintain the community fridge in her neighborhood, says it accepts produce, dairy, bread, pantry staples, baby food, canned goods, and prepared meals. It is not able to take pet food; raw meat and seafood; any frozen foods; or anything that’s open, expired, or partially eaten (you might think that last one is obvious, but Moore for one says she’s seen all that and more).If you’re interested in not just dropping off food but also helping out your local community fridge by volunteering, Youpa says doing so is fairly simple. Her work consists of checking it for maintenance issues once a week, cleaning it out and wiping it down, and taking photos of the fridge and the area surrounding it to keep the rest of the group updated on its condition. She says some volunteers also coordinate food donations from local businesses and restaurants, and they do grocery hauls based on community requests.Get to know your neighbors.Whether you’re new to a neighborhood or not, you can always reach out to the people living around you. You can knock on your neighbor’s door (we suggest wearing a mask!) or leave a note introducing yourself and sharing contact info. Attending community events in your neighborhood is also a great way to get connected with people and see if you have neighbors who might need help with grocery shopping or cooking. Many pantries, like St. James, deliver food to seniors and people who can’t easily leave their homes. Volunteering for programs like these is a way to both help people out and build relationships in your neighborhood.Finally, maybe there’s a community-led effort to get more markets into the area or to get existing ones to accept EBT as payment. Connecting with neighbors is a great way not only to help people get food when they need it but also to organize for structural change.Addressing food insecurity beyond your communityDonating food can be a crucial way to help, but don’t stop there. “Increasing free and accessible food resources frees up money in people’s budgets for other necessities like transportation, utilities, rent, or childcare,” says Paul. “But wages, pensions, and benefits should be enough to feed everyone.”Engelhard points out that, while Congress and the administration made efforts to support those facing hunger during the peak of the pandemic, many of those measures—such as SNAP emergency allotments, pandemic EBT, free school lunches, and the Child Tax Credit—were provisional and will soon expire if they haven’t already, as the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration comes to an end.These changes will leave even more people hungry. Engelhard says that, rather than acting as if the pandemic and the dire financial situation it has created for many have dissipated, “policymakers must build on those successes and continue to support our nation’s food banks and people facing hunger.” Reach out to your local, state-level, and congressional representatives (you can find your representatives in the House here, and in the Senate here) to ask what they’re doing to increase access to food in your area and nationwide. If you’re looking for a specific legislative solution to throw your weight behind, Feeding America has explainers on federal anti-hunger policy solutions.Ultimately, the lack of access to food is a problem with structural roots, but the most immediate solutions happen on the community level. Working to fight this issue on both fronts can help us help our neighbors in the short- and long-term. “Talk to your neighbors,” says Grant. “Talk to your elected officials, and keep this issue at the forefront.” •As part of the 2023 Pantry Awards, SELF has made a $2,500 donation to God’s Love We Deliver, a New York–based non-sectarian organization that prepares and delivers meals to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses. We also donated the unopened items from our photoshoot for this project to New York Common Pantry.
Dr. Van Groningen says that you can also alternate taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen to get better, round-the-clock control of a fever or pain that isn’t responding to one alone. “I will often recommend that my patients stagger them roughly four hours apart.” If you don’t want to juggle an alternating schedule, you can also buy tablets that combine the two.Any time you’re taking over-the-counter medications, make sure you’re following the dosage instructions on the package and keeping track of everything you take and what time you take it. Using a notes app on your phone, the Apple Health app, or a handwritten note can help you stay on top of this. Of course, while options like these can help you manage symptoms long enough to get through a shift, they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Get as much rest as possible.Dr. Van Groningen says that if there are ways to make your work day a bit lighter, now is the time to take those steps. If you normally go above and beyond, do what you can to stay below and near in an effort to give your body as much downtime as possible to recover. If you can, take extra breaks, trade shifts to accommodate more rest, and ask coworkers or a supportive manager to help with more taxing tasks.When your shift ends, do your best to make it an extra early night. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase your risk of acquiring a respiratory infection, and sleep is when your body performs necessary tune-ups to all your systems, including your immune system. “The consensus of experts is that too little sleep can prolong your illness,” says Dr. Varma. Feeling under the weather can sometimes make it harder to sleep, but you can try doing relaxing things before bed (like a quick meditation or putting your phone away earlier than usual).Drink plenty of fluids (soup counts!).As SELF has previously reported, it’s important to stay on top of your fluid intake when you’re ill. Sick people lose fluids more easily through excess sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Couple any of those symptoms with a job where you sweat due to physical labor, or a work setting where you can’t have food or drinks outside of designated times, and you could find yourself getting dehydrated. If your job offers little opportunity for repeatedly refilling a water bottle or taking hydration breaks, Dr. Van Groningen recommends drinking electrolyte-rich Pedialyte versus water alone. She also swears by an old standard: “Chicken noodle soup is the perfect blend of fluid and sodium, as well as protein and carbohydrates.” In the immortal words of Ina Garten, store-bought soup is fine—and there are lots of break-room-friendly microwavable options that’ll make it even easier to consume.If you’re having symptoms that make it hard to eat or keep food down, Dr. Varma says Gatorade, in addition to Pedialyte, can also be a good source of both sugar- and electrolyte-aided hydration. If it’s been 24 hours and you still can’t keep food or drink down, or you’re experiencing continual vomiting and diarrhea, he advises getting to a doctor to make sure you’re not dangerously dehydrated or sick with something that will need further treatment to improve. Do your best to minimize the chances of getting others sick.Dr. Van Groningen, Dr. Blackstock, and Dr. Varma all agree that the precautions we all became familiar with early in the COVID-19 pandemic are good ways to prevent the spread of infectious illnesses in general. These include wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask like a KN95 or N95; staying up-to-date on your recommended vaccinations; frequent and thorough hand washing; social distancing; and good ventilation.
I grew up confident that I was bad at sports. Specifically, that I was unathletic, awkward, uncoordinated, and easily fatigued. I heard it from the gym teachers who wouldn’t let me use the bathroom because they assumed that I was just trying to get out of class. I heard it from my peers. I heard it from myself. And to be fair, my gym teachers, my peers, and I weren’t totally off the mark. When I asked to go to the bathroom during gym, I was just trying to get out of class. In middle school, I walked the presidential-inspired, school-mandated mile jog test—and did it backwards, just to be a little shit about it. But ultimately, I was wrong. Not to believe that I was bad at sports, but to believe that whether I was bad mattered. Because sports can actually be really fun, even if you’re bad at them. Especially if you’re bad at them. If, like me, you’re a perfectionist in other areas of your life, permission to be terrible at something can feel like freedom. That’s why I cannot overstate what a transcendent experience it is for me to quiet my mind, tune into my body, strap a snowboard to my feet and a helmet to my skull, and spend hours falling down the side of a mountain. But I don’t just want you to know that I’m a terrible snowboarder—I want you to understand that you can be one, too. Here’s how I picked up a fun new hobby that I am delightfully awful at.Let your whims be your guide.My initial foray into the world of sports was rowing. I was in my first year of college, and a stranger turned to me at the end of a class and said, “You’re tall. Meet me at the gym tomorrow at 5 a.m.” The fact that I went is a testament to the incredible loneliness of the first year of college, and to the power of random whim. Rowing turned out to be cold, wet, painful, and exhausting. Somehow, I loved it immediately. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I went back the next day, and the day after that, and somehow by my senior year I was co-captain of arguably the worst DIII varsity rowing team the NCAA has ever seen (Go Gryphons!). Trying out rowing altered my understanding of myself, for the better. I no longer understood my relationship with athletics through the simplistic binary of “good” vs “bad.” I had never expected to succeed, so the standards of achievement that ordinarily governed my experience of an activity simply didn’t apply. I realized I could just enjoy a sport. Six years later, a couple of friends asked if I wanted to take a day trip to a nearby mountain and learn how to snowboard. Sure, by that point I had developed an improbable and fierce love for a sport—but rowing consisted of sitting in one spot and doing the exact same motion over and over again. I was still unathletic, awkward, uncoordinated, and easily fatigued. Also important to consider was the fact that snowboarding seemed like a new type of cold, wet, painful, and exhausting.
Outside the snow was falling and friends, relatives, neighbors, and people I had never seen before in my life were coming and going from my dad’s annual Christmas Eve open house. Inside, Megan Fox was biting a guy’s face off. ‘Twas the night before Christmas of 2014 and in the living room, It’s A Wonderful Life was playing on a loop (or maybe it’s just really, really long, I could never quite be sure). The two-and-a-half-foot-tall fake tree whose implicit tragedy my father seemed oblivious to was on display atop a TV tray. The clam chowder and lobster bisque of a nominally Italian Christmas Eve congealed on the kitchen counter. My bedroom, though, was a world apart. I was bundled under a comforter alongside my best friend and her two sisters, insulated from the festive ephemera. At least, I had been. Then Megan Fox turned into a demon and mauled a guy’s face, and my friend’s youngest sister shrieked loudly enough at the jumpscare to remind her parents, who were down the hall enjoying the open house, of our existence.We were still kicking her under the blanket when my friend’s mom appeared in the doorway to corral them all to the car. December 24th was also the final day of Hanukkah that year, which meant my only ally during my family’s annual open house would be gone earlier than usual, as her family left to light the menorah. My heart plummeted, but stopped short of hitting the ground when I remembered the movie paused behind me.I watched their tail lights ride out of sight, then let the curtain on my bedroom window fall shut. Down the hall, George Bailey lassoed the moon. In my room, an unpaused Megan Fox, starring in the seminal holiday classic Jennifer’s Body, lured her latest victim to an empty, unfinished home, and feasted on his heart. It wasn’t the first time I spent a holiday in the soft embrace of the macabre, and it wouldn’t be the last. The holiday season has long felt fraught to me. Here’s why I watch horror to get through the most wonderful time of the year, and how it helps me cope.It’s normal to be stressed out by the holidays.While some greet the holiday season with delight, research demonstrates that for many, it’s a time of significant stress, especially during the ongoing pandemic. For lots of people, depression and anxiety spike around the holidays. Retail, service, delivery, and health care workers often find themselves bombarded with an increased workload and unfair labor practices, not to mention the eighteenth rendition of “Jingle Bells” piped through the PA system. Many holiday festivities prominently feature alcohol, which can heighten people’s anxiety, and be especially trying and triggering for those affected by alcohol use disorder. The joy of gift-giving can be warped into an obligation to spend beyond your means, lest you disappoint your loved ones. What’s more, the expectation of familial togetherness associated with the holidays is everywhere, from social media to advertisements, and frankly, the pressure can be exhausting. It can sting for those unable to gather with their families, whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, a family member’s incarceration, loved ones’ refusal to practice COVID-19 precautions, or familial alienation like that experienced by many queer people and survivors of abuse. It can also be painful for those who do gather with their families, only to find themselves in a situation that isn’t so much enjoyed as endured.
Whether you love it or hate it, the holiday season is a lot. Maybe you’re celebrating something this time of year, or maybe you’ll simply be subjected to the inescapable onslaught of festivity that makes checkout lines longer, tempers shorter, and everything, everywhere cinnamon-scented. For many people in the LGBTQ+ community, the holidays are rife with expectations and pressure, and even those who do enjoy them may also find them overwhelming, complicated, or emotionally draining. Whatever your holiday experience is like, the aftermath of it all is a great time to be gentle with yourself. That means curling up in your most comfortable clothes, enjoying your favorite snacks, and streaming something to aid your recovery. Not sure what to watch? Try something that reminds you your identity is beyond reproach. There are tons of options available online, some of which are free and others that may cost a bit to rent. Start with one of these 14 LGBTQ-affirming movies.1. Anything’s PossibleContentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Anything’s Possible is a sweet, funny high school romance about the blossoming of first love between Kelsa (Eva Reign), a charismatic trans girl, and Khal (Abubakr Ali), her shy cis classmate, after they’re paired together in art class. While the film does feature plot points related to transphobia, it doesn’t linger on trauma, and its message is ultimately uplifting. It’s also the feature-film directorial debut of celebrated actor, musician, and activist Billy Porter, and takes place in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Available to stream on Prime. 2. Fire IslandContentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Beyond messaging, the testing, treatment, and vaccination infrastructure must also be equitable and robust, especially as an outbreak continues to grow. Oni Blackstock, MD, founder and executive director of anti-racist health equity consulting organization Health Justice, worries the U.S.’s health care infrastructure is unprepared for monkeypox: “Many of the same issues that we saw with COVID—lack of access to testing, vaccines, and treatment—are also being seen with [monkeypox],” she tells SELF. “Black and Latino [gay men and their sexual networks are] disproportionately affected,” she adds. “We know these groups have less access to care and are more likely to be uninsured.”Other experts are also concerned that public health outreach efforts may not reach those in rural areas. “Many people in the U.S. do not have access to sexual health clinics, which are a critical safety-net resource for providing high-quality, LGBTQ-friendly health services at low or no-cost,” Jay Varma, MD, professor of population health services at Weill Cornell Medical College, tells SELF.The infrastructure underlying the state-by-state vaccine rollout—including online portals for appointment scheduling and the locations and hours of vaccination sites—can also be inaccessible to disabled people, those without reliable internet access, and people who work in the evenings.In an urgent open letter to the Biden administration, a group of 16 health care and equity experts and queer community members laid out policy solutions that they believe are key to ensuring the monkeypox response reaches marginalized and underserved communities. The letter details the need for free testing and vaccination at community venues, supporting rapid research for testing, and increasing staff resources for front-line agencies such as sexual health clinics, among other proposals.So, should we consider monkeypox an STI?It’s possible you’ve seen news stories referring to monkeypox as a sexually transmitted infection—and then other news stories (or social media discourse) contesting that characterization. There are a couple of reasons for both the characterizations and the pushback.First, it is true that a majority of monkeypox cases reported in the U.S. right now are being driven by sexual contact. But, to be clear, monkeypox can spread via any type of close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox, the CDC says. This can happen during intimate contact like any kind of sex, kissing, hugging, massage, prolonged face-to-face contact, or touching fabrics and objects that were used by someone who has an active infection.Advocates like Farrow worry—for good reason—that referring to monkeypox as an STI will result in the stigmatization of those most at risk. As Gothamist reported, other experts worry calling it an STI “could also downplay the threat posed to the general public, leading some people to not take precautions when they should.”Of course, whether something is contracted sexually should not impact the quality of your care, or your access to disease education, vaccination, and treatment. There’s nothing inherently shameful about sexually transmitted infections. It’s when bad-faith actors use the STI label as a way to denigrate communities at risk that the label becomes dangerous.