10 Jun The Single WOC’s Comprehensive Survival Guide for COVID Times & Beyond
Even for the most dedicated of introverts, times are rough.
Over the past few months, social media and news outlets have been flooded with a tsunami-like wave centered around one topic: COVID-19. It’s a subject that, for good reason, has nudged its way into every conversation, whether it’s mentioned outright or silently understood. Readers can select from an array of topics like virtual meetings for newbies, working from home with kids, and being stuck sharing quarters with a significant other. While these are all worthwhile topics, I noticed that most of the content doesn’t speak to my experience as a single woman of color. Inspired by words from the legendary Toni Morrison: “If there’s [an article] that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Since the pandemic hit, I’ve been spending far more time alone than usual and monumental amounts of time reflecting. In this article, I hope to offer advice for other ambitious, single women of color who might be struggling in solitude and need a boost for mind, body and soul.
1. Know that You’re (Probably) Doing Enough
Right now, Instagram is full of pretty motivational messages promising that it’s okay if we’re not writing the next best seller while the country is on lockdown. I personally find this really difficult to take to heart. As much as I hate to admit it, my productivity frequently has a direct impact on how good I feel about myself at the end of the day. Crossing stuff of my to do list is such a gratifying hit of dopamine! Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
Here’s the thing — we are not working under normal circumstances. You might be experiencing an odd mix of intense gratitude for being employed and guilt for not performing at max productivity. What’s the struggle? For me, it’s that I’m worried. I’m worried about the wellbeing of my friends and family. I’m unsure of job prospects and the economy. I’m outraged with the continued senseless killings of black people like Ahmaud Arbery and Breona Taylor. I’m dumbfounded about the murdered and missing Indigenous women epidemic. I can’t help but worry about the fact that COVID-19 is devastating black and brown communities at disproportionate rates. But nevermind all of that — did you remember to send that email on time?
It’s a lot. Have grace for yourself. Do what you can with what you’ve got. You are enough. You’re doing enough. While I have no doubt you’re doing everything you can with what you got, consider doing some things a little differently. Making a few small adjustments can help refuel your spirit.
2. Just Keep Moving
Remember two seconds ago, when I said you’re doing enough? There’s one exception — you may need to be moving more.
When I landed in the DMV area nearly three years ago, I quickly joined an amazing cycling club full of some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. As a single person new to the area, I was over the moon about making friends and exploring new neighborhoods on two wheels. My new fitness ritual was established: group bike rides early every Saturday morning. I’d even sneak in a ride on an occasional week night. These rides were extra special because they ticked several boxes for me: social time, fresh air and sunshine, calorie burn and fun physical challenge. The end of May is approaching and I haven’t done one single group ride. My gym is also closed so I’m making a conscious effort to keep myself moving. Poor physical health can lead to a decline in mental health. With pandemic stressors everywhere, exercise becomes that much more important. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where it’s safe to do so, simply taking a walk has benefits. There are also yoga apps like Down Dog and The Underbelly. You’ll find tons of free workout videos on youtube. Don’t underestimate simple movements like pushups, situps and air squats. A body in motion tends to stay in motion so just start with something, anything!
3. Beware Aggravating your Achilles Heel
Whatever vulnerabilities exist during normal times are likely to be amplified right now — especially for single ladies living solo. Do you tend to self isolate? (Raises hand.) Are you prone to having a few too many glasses of wine on the weekend? Is there now a permanent butt indentation on your couch from binge watching all the things on Netflix? Do you struggle with anxiety?
What’s the “hole” that you risk falling into due to being isolated in quarantine?
Being more acutely aware than normal will help you avoid overindulging in all of the wrong things. How else can you prevent that painful tumble? Enlist an unconditionally loving friend or family member to be on your support team. Especially if you hate asking for help, now is the ideal time to ask them to check on you.
If you don’t have “a person”, call in reinforcements. Partnering with a life, career or relationship coach is a great strategy to keep your thoughts pointing to a compelling future instead of ruminating on worst case scenarios. Despite the stereotypes, high quality coaches are available at every price point, including pro bono. Start by visiting the ICF credentialed coach finder and select ‘pro bono’ or indicate your price point. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, reach out to me for help getting connected. Coaching is ideal for women who are open to feedback, want to be constructively challenged and want more from life, but are not sure how to get there.
If you’re experiencing debilitating anxiety or stress, having trouble sleeping or have experienced trauma, then therapy might be a better fit. To explore resources or to find a therapist near you, check out Therapy for Black Girls.
There is power in asking for what you need — even if that means calling on someone outside your circle. Self care means we gotta do these things to self-preserve; nobody else can do it for us.
This seems counterintuitive, especially in what feels like a time of scarcity, but making a small donation of time or money to someone who is struggling is an investment you’ll be proud of. Within the last two months, I’ve Cash App’ed a family member, unexpectedly. I helped bail black mama’s out of jail, I contributed a few dollars to a Go Fund Me account for medical expenses. I gave to other important causes like Calvary Women’s Services and WAMU. For those who don’t know me well, I am not independently wealthy, but I am working on that! This is not about giving A LOT of money. It’s about choosing people or organizations that align with your values and being able to say “I see you, I support you, you’re worthy.”
5. Amplify your Analog Activities
When COVID-19 started hitting in March, I found myself obsessively scrolling through social media feeds and news websites. With so many unknowns, my brain thought that reading every single bit of content from the internet would alleviate my anxiety. Spoiler alert: that didn’t work! In fact, the news was like an all you could eat buffet for my anxiety; it simply weighed me down. I took a 30 day break from Facebook and upon my return, vowed to only check it once or twice per day and never from my mobile device.
Our overstimulated brains need a break from all these screens.
Instead, try doing an old school puzzle. Grab a real book. Birdwatch, cook, try meditation, start a yoga practice, journal. Analog activities help us practice being present and build resilience which allows us to be more calm and creative. That creativity may come in handy as you rediscover some grown up toys that you totally forgot about.
6. Call, Write and Tweet Your Elected Officials
We have to speak up and work together in order to affect change on national level. We must hold our elected officials accountable and our voices must be heard. Pick a cause, make a call.