Healthy Habits: Perseverance and peer support are interconnected


By Lindell Joseph

In this time of a serious pandemic, the mere fact that we must leave our “safe dwellings,” whether this is a house, apartment, independent living, assisted living or condo, is uncomfortable and sometimes frightening.


Many of us are venturing out for a physical exam, lab work, to get groceries, go to the drug store or attend Mass. When we leave our dwellings, we wonder whether we are putting others or ourselves at risk. How much and in what way are we willing to risk? Although we may or may not be at risk, we are sometimes experiencing peer pressure about the appropriate behavior regarding masks and social distancing.

Recently, my mother, who lives in New York, was adamant about visiting her younger sister who had been recently discharged from the hospital after an episode of vertigo. They had not seen each other for five months due to COVID-19. Many in the family were concerned since both sisters had pre-existing conditions. My mom did visit utilizing the recommendations of wearing masks and social distancing.


The healthcare evidence and biblical Scriptures clearly reveal what our actions should be but confusion, personal circumstances and peer pressure still flood our daily decision making. This month’s column will illustrate how perseverance and peer support are interconnected and how both concepts can enable health and well-being during this very unusual time.

The costs of perseverance within the current environment

Regardless of obstacles that exist, our centering is about trying to stay healthy. Today, this is not easy. We have to persevere despite almost total disruption of our daily lives. Perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties or societal lock-down. It requires that we acknowledge the mixed messages about masks and social distancing and adapt our behaviors for health and well-being. Fundamentally, this is about care for our neighbors and ourselves.

Peer support as a strategy to mitigate risks

Peer support brings together individuals with similar stressors for mutual support. It involves a variety of helping behaviors assumed by friends, family, colleagues and parishioners who reach out to others. Peer support can be delivered in groups or pairs, in person, over the telephone or through Zoom video conferencing or other creative ways to communicate.

Here are two Healthy Habits and the supportive Scriptures to persevere and use peer support:

• Healthy Habit #1: Perse­verance — be persistent by wearing your mask and engaging in 6 feet of social distancing. Think of this as loving thy neighbor as thyself.
Scripture #1: Perseverance — Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

• Healthy Habit #2: Peer support — Find a friend who understands your dilemma and plan a telephone visit to communicate your situation and gather support. Surely, we are all in this together. Casting forth love in the form of emotional support reaffirms our humanity and gives us purpose.

Scripture #2: Peer Support — 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

The Christian life of providing support and persevering during this pandemic can be reflected in the context of this quote by St. Edith Stein, “Do not accept anything as Truth if it lacks LOVE. Do not accept anything as LOVE which lacks Truth”.

Call to Action:

1. If you are wondering about your risk or that of others, call a friend today to discuss the truth.

2. Engage in activities of body, mind and spirit to persevere and thrive.

References: https://tinyurl. com/ybkp4pwb

(Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a nurse, professor, and director of the MSN/CNL program at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She is a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and is married to Hector Guadalupe. They have a daughter Geneva Guadalupe. Lindell also is a lay Carmelite who co-chairs the Healthy Habits Ministry at her parish.)

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