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#TheSoapbox: The pandemic is exhausting, so here are 12 rules to help you cope

Reader Kevin Shanahan adapts some thoughts from a Jesuit missionary that have helped him keep some perspective during COVID-19

By Kevin Shanahan 

A friend was getting into a bit of a dark place lately and needed a self-check, so she made a list of things she was grateful for. It made her realize how fortunate she was to have the friends and family she has. Even though I do this on a daily basis, there are times during this isolation I need that same self check reminder when the daily routine becomes mundane.

Even though we are coming through this together, it is normal, at a time like this, to crash physically and mentally. It can bring on a fatigue like no other. It has its own set of symptoms, its own mental effects that set off a flood of "what if's." It's like being in a fight with a much stronger opponent. Our being "stronger" isn't going to cut it. We need to be "smarter" to win .

Many years ago, I kept an article that featured "Twelve Prescriptions for the Millennium" by American Jesuit missionary, Robert Ronald. Now, I need to put all these rules to practice, AGAIN. It's the best prescription I have ever had. I don't feel these rules are just for aging. After "any" critical illness we need to adjust to our bodies limitations.

The 12 Rules

Rule 1: Look your troubles in the eye. Problems not faced do not go away. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Anticipate each dip, and prepare for it.

Rule 2: Never say you can't, but do say you won't. Neither be so discouraged that you quit, nor so stubborn you won't stop. Troubles come sooner and last longer for those who wear themselves out. 

Rule 3: For whatever you can no longer do, substitute something else. There is nothing more refreshing than a good nap, as long as it's followed by waking up. Find a way to slow down without stopping.

Rule 4: Don't hide. If you want your special needs attended to, you have to make them known.  Do not be ashamed of your limitations.

Rule 5: Claim your rights and privileges, such as the right to refuse to eat more, the privilege of resting and pacing your activities, the right to assistance, the privilege of cutting back on your work, and so on.

Rule 6: Be humble enough to accept help, and proud enough to ask for it. Do not be ashamed to ask for what you need. Accept help graciously.

Rule 7: Always offer a helping hand and a comforting ear. Stay interested in the world around you. Concern for others lightens your own concerns.

Rule 8: Put anger, sadness and regret behind you. It's perfectly OK to feel anger at the pain and distress of growing old. It isn't OK to stay angry. It's perfectly OK to mourn the closing of chapters in your life. It isn't OK to mourn the rest of your life. It's OK to regret all things you could or should have done differently. It isn't OK not to forgive yourself or others. Don't let your anger today spill over into tomorrow. Look back without regret, and forward without dread.

Rule 9: Always look for the bright side. We win or lose by how we interpret and react to everything that happens. Winning is rejoicing in what you have left. Losing is seeing only what you have lost.

Rule 10: Take every day as it comes, and give it all you've got. The thing to be afraid of is not what you fear, but letting the fear keep you from going on.

Rule 11: Enjoy what each day brings. Be open with wonder and excitement to new experiences, even those that come with decline. Enjoy the ride down, even when you know there is no going back up.

Rule 12: Stir up the tiger in your tank. Your body will still be the same old jalopy, but life will have more oomph and satisfaction.

I have used these rules to adapt with aging, with changes that were brought on by cancer and I do it one day at a time. Now with this virus isolation, I find it challenging to apply them, but I work on them daily. 

We are in the same storm, just different boats. However, it's comforting knowing friends have your back. Stay Safe.

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