Singleness, COVID-19 and Sheltering in Place

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I’m a single 54-year-old African American Christian woman living in a very confusing, fearful, and challenging time with the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a person who lives alone, I’m forced to navigate my life, time, emotions and resources in a completely different way. I’m not the only one! In the past, I’ve facilitated women’s groups and the subject of singleness usually surfaced during these group meetings. Many of these conversations have been with single African American women who have expressed their feelings about being unpartnered or unmarried particularly in times of crisis, stress or conflict. Now, these feelings are even more poignant where community and partnership is vital during the COVID-19 crisis.

While there are many similarities inherent of single people, there are important differences as well. Single people come from all walks of life and vary tremendously according to race, religion, gender, age, culture, education, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. Perhaps singleness carries a different meaning in the death of a spouse, or for those who are separated or divorced. Still, there are those who are single with children, single without children, or single by choice.

I believe this health crisis, forcing us to shelter in place and social distance is difficult for all people, but especially single people who find themselves feeling vulnerable to this new way of being and life. This is a new kind of singleness and I list several coping do’s for singles—persons living alone during this time.

My Do’s for Single People During COVID-19

  • Do virtually connect with family members and establish communities in which to care and to be cared for while sheltering in place. These communities are blood-kin family, church family, co-workers, friends, neighbors or extended-fictive family. Remember there is no such thing as the ideal family! The family system or community that you deem as familial or communal is one that provides a collective support, strength and care. Virtually gather with persons and communities who speak, life, health and hope.
  • Do virtually connect with other groups if you are interested in expanding your friendship circle. Enjoy the multitude of virtual conversations or interest groups. I know that social distancing has changed how we interact with one another, but a singles group or connecting with other like-minded people can help change your focus and outlook for the better.
  • Do virtually date if you desire. Be safe and creative as you meet interesting people during this health crisis.
  • Do share and give an honest account of what you are feeling and needing during this time. Be honest in what you are lacking to love ones via text, email, and phone calls. Sheltering in place does not mean sheltering your emotions or specific needs during this challenging time. Check in with others.
  • Do seek virtual mental health services, counseling or other mental health services if you are experiencing changes in mood, behavior and thoughts. Living alone, social distancing and sheltering in place can be stressful for those who are used to being on the go or active in some capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic opens the door for a flood of emotions: stress, sadness, grief, anger, loneliness, frustration or anxiety etc. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed please find appropriate mental health support.
  • Do practice self-care, pampering and self- improvement while sheltering in place. Find activities that bring you joy, peace, and comfort (i.e. music, exercise, reading, journaling, cooking, nature walks, painting, etc.). Set up a routine. Be creative, enjoy, and have fun! This is an opportunity to reflect, grow, and be your best self.
  • Do rely on your faith and connect with a faith community for virtual worship or prayer. Sing songs or read scripture(s) that remind you of God’s amazing grace, favor, and loving kindness. It is important to spiritually connect in the way that is life-giving to your soul. Use this time to deepen your connection and relationship with God. Limit your time and exposure to COVID-19 news. Give yourself breaks to spiritually replenish.

Rev. Dr. Christina Hicks is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a pastoral counselor who is pursuing her licensure in marriage and family therapy. She has served as part of Georgia’s Regional Mental Health Team. Hicks is a published author of Exploring the Psychosocial and Psycho-spiritual Dynamics of Singleness Among African American Christian Women in Midlife. She received her ThD (Doctor of Theology) in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Emory University in Atlanta, GA and her MDiv from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. Dr. Hicks has served as an assistant pastor and women’s group leader at both a Disciples of Christ church and a non-denominational church. She has also served as an adjunct professor of religious studies and counseling at Beulah Heights University and a group facilitator of pastoral care, counseling and psychology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA.

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