Perseverance and Endurance

by Finola Colgan

Perseverance is not giving up and is about making, the effort to do something and keep doing it till the end, even if it is difficult. Its origins come from the Latin ‘perseverantia’ and means to abide by something strictly. Endurance is from the 1660s and means “ability to bear suffering”. Working or way through and enduring the challenges being posed to us in these tough times requires daily perseverance.

Perseverance is a key personality trait that we have had to draw on since the arrival of the coronavirus in our lives in mid-March. We waited in hope for the 5th May, which has now come and gone and extended to the 18th May with a sense of light at the end of the tunnel. We need to persevere and be persistent in our adherence to the stay at home as are all in this together. It is like a team effort – Together Everyone Achieves More. It is by all accounts incumbent on us to realize that we have to live with the presence of coronavirus in our midst for the immediate foreseeable future. We need to be diligent in our behavior to save lives, our own our families and most importantly protect and minimize risk for all our medical care staff. They are collectively working as a team to save lives. Daily they put their own health at risk and that of their families in the interest of the community. Outside the hospital setting, there are many more supporting us such as An Post staff, Pharmacists, shop assistants.

We are all familiar with the wonderful and great Muhammad Ali. He was once asked if he liked his training regime, his classic response was: “I hated every minute of training, but I said to myself, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion’”. and so, he did. We must now consider a similar approach, persevere, endure, and make consistent efforts to make the most of our current circumstances. In some manner like Muhammad Ali’s approach, we too need to keep trying our best to renew our energy levels as we face into the next number of weeks. Even when restrictions are lifted, we will need to learn new patience and resilience as we make the transition into the new norm as it is now being referenced.

Perseverance also has within its meaning “staying at a distance” which is ironic giving the national request to adhere to a 6 foot physical distance. You can also create your own mindful distance. Take, a step back mentally and reflect on how you are doing, check in on yourself and how well you are looking after yourself in these tough times. If you are feeling down please don’t be surprised, it is a natural mood feeling in these restrictive times. However, it is important to manage such feelings so that they do not morph into feelings of depression. The following are a few gentle reminders of basic self-care tips that you could check in on daily.

Physical Health

Check-in on how you are feeling, mentally and physically. In looking after your wellbeing consider if you and your family are keeping hydrated, eating a balanced diet. It can be difficult to avoid reaching out for the salty bag of crisps or popcorn in front of the tv, or because of boredom or possibly feeling on edge. Poor eating habits for yourself and your family need to be tempered especially if there are already feelings of low mood in the household.

Healthy eating routine tips advised by Healthy Ireland during Covid-19 include keeping to regular meals times and snack breaks a day. Placing a reminder or note on the fridge and treats cupboard can be an incentive to think twice before eating outside of mealtimes. It can also be helpful to make a list of the meals you are going to make so it can help you plan for the week. Make sure to drink plenty of water, keeping hydrated is so important.

Being active during the COVID-19 is challenging for us all as the opportunities to be physically active are by necessity restricted It makes sense to use the 5km allowance on a regular daily basis. This will help reduce time spent sitting for long periods. While there are many opportunities to follow exercise regimes on YouTube, it is far more beneficial and healthier to get outdoors and get fresh air while of course adhering to social and physical distancing at all costs. Remember however any physical activity is better than none. As the Czechoslovakian Poet Miroslav Holub Poet and Immunologist wrote in his poem “The Door”.

Go and open the door.

Even if there’s only the darkness ticking,

Even if there’s only the hollow wind,

Even if nothing is there,

go and open the door.

At least there’ll be a draught.


Sleep is every bit as important as a good diet and healthy exercise. Combined they lend themselves to feelings of being healthy and happy, consequently, we can feel more in control of daily living. We reduce the risk of exhaustion and depleting energy levels necessary for daily living. Adequate quality sleep can also help us to feel mentally sharp and to prevent illnesses. It is regularly stated that one-hour sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight! The ideal aim is to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night, getting that one hour in before midnight!

Thoughts and Feelings

It is challenging to hold on to positive thoughts in these tough times. Mental Health Ireland along with Mental Health Europe and the WHO strongly recommend aiming to focus on things that are positive in your life. WHO recommends finding opportunities to amplify the voices, positive stories and positive images of local people who have experienced the novel coronavirus and have recovered or who have supported a loved one through recovery and are willing to share their experience. All very uplifting.

Everyone is struggling in their own way with Covid-19 unfortunately some people we know have lost their jobs, some are working from home, many are dealing with loss and illness. It is necessary for us all to adjust to a new norm one way or another. Now is a good time to reconnect with your wellbeing and build resilience to be in a good place physically and mentally as we unravel ourselves from Covid19.

When you are beginning to feel tired or exhausted. Stop! Take a minute. Free your thoughts. Let go of things you must do right now or later today. Just let your thoughts rise and fall in sync and be at one with your own natural breathing. Feel the moment. Open your eyes and feel refreshed! Repeat if necessary.

The “Yellow Brick Road”

We are familiar with the “Wizard of Oz” one of our greatest childhood movies based on Dorothy’s imaginary journey along the Yellow Brick Road. It was for Dorothy a world turned upside down with many obstacles. However, when Dorothy emerged from that fantasy world she had learned a lot about perseverance and endurance and discovered her own courage, love and intelligence. Dorothy did not wish to stay on in that Oz forever, no more than any of us wish to remain in our new turbulent and unpredictable world. Dorothy moved on in life, fortified with the knowledge and experience she had accumulated along the “yellow brick road”. So too for us, if we “box clever” like Mohamed Ali we too will emerge from these turbulent times stronger, more resilient, and thoughtful about life as a new norm emerges.

(Edited by Richard Williams)