Personal hygiene is a basic necessity that most people take for granted. Having access to showers, products, clothing and other necessities is a privilege that others may not have proper access to. Something many people don’t consider is how personal hygiene can have a strong impact on one’s health - both mental and physical.
Having a strong hygiene routine may help improve health and limit the possibility of illness or disease later in life. It can help make you feel more confident about yourself, improve your motivation, and overall improve your quality of life. Beyond this, having poor hygiene or little access to personal hygiene can cause or increase depression & anxiety.
Many people learn basic hygiene and bathing habits at a young age and shaving, laundry, and other practices when they get older - if these prominent years are disrupted by external factors that can play a big role. Hygiene choices have a profound impact on quality of life as well as mental and physical health.
Poor Hygiene & Disease Prevention
For various reasons, poor hygiene can have a strong impact on one’s health, therefore impacting the quality of their life. Each person’s idea of good hygiene may differ due to upbringing or available resources. Certain basic practices are almost universally accepted as good hygiene and can be damaging if you don’t have access to these. Some of the basic hygiene practices include bathing regularly, nail trimmings, brushing teeth, and hand washing.
Implementing these hygiene practices into your daily routine will help better your physical and mental health. Having limited access to these resources can quickly impact one’s health. Having access to a shower is not only necessary to remove dirt, bacteria, and other external substances left on your skin from the day. Trimming nails and washing your hands will prevent problems like infected nails and infections or virus spreading.
Good personal hygiene is the number one way to protect against illnesses. Common conditions that can be avoided by personal hygiene include the following: athlete’s foot, body lice, diarrhea, tooth decay, and gum disease, scabies, UTI, and even in more serious cases ringworm. Something as simple as handwashing can have a significant impact on your health.
In terms of those experiencing homelessness and the lack of hygiene, professional acceptance can be a huge barrier. Poor hygiene may cause issues in social and professional settings, deterring people from having a career. Someone with bad body odor or breath may be unpleasant to be around, while others may feel that being around someone with inadequate hygiene will reflect poorly on their image. Those who experience homelessness do not have proper access to these essential services, therefore further perpetuating the lack of professional acceptance.
Those with good hygiene, however, will not experience this barrier when trying to connect with people socially or cooperate with co-workers professionally. Personal cleanliness alone will not get you more friends or make a job promotion more likely. However, you might consider it a prerequisite for social and professional acceptance. Whether it is fair or not, good hygiene will help create an acceptable image with friends, professional peers, and decision-makers at work. Without the distraction of poor hygiene, making both social and professional connections easier.
Help The Homeless
At ShowerUp, we provide mobile showers and personal hygiene services to those experiencing homelessness in Nashville, Wichita, Huntsville, and our newest location, Chicago. Our mission is to work on bettering the hygiene of these homeless communities in order to better their life experiences. We work to improve hygiene, lifestyles and make the day-to-day a bit easier. Visit our website today to sign up to volunteer, donate, or learn more about our mission!
At ShowerUp, our mission is to provide those experiencing homelessness with basic necessities, such as personal hygiene products and access to showers. In January of 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America. On top of this, there are greater risks associated with gender, race, and/or ethnicity - males are far more likely to experience homelessness than females. Additionally, communities of color and those who are historically marginalized are much more likely to be disadvantaged within the housing and homelessness spheres. These disadvantages include higher unemployment rates, lower incomes, less access to healthcare, and higher incarceration rates.
Our mission is rooted in the desire to assist those experiencing homelessness and those lacking adequate places to sleep. Although the US has a system of very temporary shelters, sleeping locations are far from adequate - with many experiencing homelessness sleeping on sidewalks, subway stations, parks, etc. On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a predicted increase of approximately 250,000 people, within the already growing and overcrowded homeless population. With these far from fair sleeping conditions, the least we can do is provide homeless communities with basic hygiene products and services. With that being said, we can all do more to help!
How Can You Help?
With the homeless population increasing, wanting to lend a helping hand is only natural. With that being said, in a time of COVID-19 and uncertainty, finding the right way to help can be difficult. We have assembled ways that you can help those experiencing homelessness, with or without money!
Donating anything from canned foods to winter jackets is a great way to assist those in need. For those that are busy and may not be able to volunteer, or for those who may not have the ability to write a check, a donation is a great way to lend a helping hand.
Another great way to assist those experiencing homelessness is to promote nearby shelters via flyers. Homeless communities don’t have the ability to search google to find nearby shelters, and sometimes it can be discouraging to even try. Utilizing your creative skills by building flyers that help promote not only shelters but also other resources available to homeless communities is an excellent way to support those experiencing homelessness in communities near you.
Volunteering at your local shelter or non-profit is imperative to keep these organizations up and running. After the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the already growing employee shortages, volunteering your time for free, if you are able, is a great way to make sure these local organizations stay around to assist homeless communities.
Participating in a fundraising event or building your own fundraiser for special occasions is another great way to encourage those around you. Raising the finances that contribute to building shelters, or providing resources, is a realistic and successful way to help out.
At ShowerUp, we provide mobile showers and personal hygiene products to those experiencing homelessness in Nashville, Wichita, Huntsville, and our newest location, Chicago. Visit our website today to sign up to volunteer, donate, or learn more about our mission!
Homeless. Unhoused. Those experiencing homelessness.
These are all used to describe what some call "the homeless problem" that we have in our country. There are an estimated 3 million people who fall in that category and it's not getting better. Lots of reasons why. It's a complicated conversation.
what's not complicated is that they are people. Human beings. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas and grandpas...friends.
I cringe when I hear people referred to as a categorical "problem". When we use the word "homeless" in a way that could be substituted with an unwanted animal ("These homeless are ruining our city."), we not only diminish them, we debase ourselves.
(I wish I could type this next sentence in HUGE letters.)
We are at our best when we share, give, support, care, understand, and love.
When we lift others up, we lift ourselves. When we value those in difficult circumstances, we build our own humanity.
I'm not asking just for a change of terminology, I'm asking for a change of perspective and a change of heart. It's my desire that no one question their value based on their current life circumstances. When we remind people of their value, we light the spark of HOPE in their lives.
When you talk with a person experiencing homelessness, it's the first thing you want to know, right?
Have you ever wondered why you want to know that? The answer to THAT question may be more important.
Don't worry...it's natural to wonder. For some people, they want to know because they genuinely care and want to be intelligently empathetic. Others care because they want to fix the problem or be able to offer suggestions on what that person could do differently. Sometimes, the motivation is a sort of fore-warning because they are afraid it might happen to them.
You wonder simply because homelessness is so hard to understand in a country with so much opportunity, wealth, and happiness. America is not bound by a caste system, a totalitarian government, or rampant extreme poverty. Homelessness is strange to most of us.
Before we can answer why people experience homelessness (my wording is on purpose), we need to understand our motivation for knowing. The reason? When you find out why, you will be required to respond and your response will make all the difference. It will also expose your true motivation.
What if you saw a man sitting on the side of the road with this sign, "Please give me money so I can buy drugs and alcohol."? Would you applaud his honesty or be appalled by his brazenness? What if the guy on the bench with the backpack and sleeping bag had a sign around his neck, "I just got out of prison."?
Or what if we tried to get rid of the signs and labels altogether?
The reasons for homelessness are as varied and unique as the individuals who are in the midst of it. One of the biggest reasons may surprise you.
When I spoke to Jay about why he was living on the streets, he told me that his parents and his siblings all had money, homes, and lives. Something broke down in their relationship, however, and Jay lost the most important thing that could have kept him off the streets. He lost his support system. Bridges get burned and it is hard to rebuild them. Shame, addiction, hurt, anger, and hopelessness all play into why someone would lose their support. They lose their safety net.
They can tell you exactly why it happened too. Jay takes full responsibility for his decisions. He knows why he is couch-surfing.
We can also talk about gentrification, mental illness, addictions, felonies, and other factors that answer the "why" question.
But, let's suppose for a moment that it didn't matter. Jesus said for us to love our neighbors. He then told the story of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man was beaten and robbed and left for dead by the side of the road. The people that you would have thought would have been compassionate and would have stopped to help, didn't. Then along came a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews were enemies. But this particular Samaritan didn't care. He tended to the wounds and even made sure he was cared for without asking anything in return. He didn't evaluate the situation to see if the man was worthy of his help. All he knew was there was a man who needed help. So, he helped. In the words of Jesus, let us "go and do likewise."