The new year is meant to be a fresh start. A time of promise and possibility. But this particular year, as the pandemic continues, new variants emerge and troublesome events unfold in the U.S. capital, we’ve felt other things: sadness, pain, and frustration. The upheaval of 2020 continues into 2021 in new and different ways, but it doesn’t need to unmoor us from our journey towards resilience. 2020 has been our greatest teacher, an immersive masterclass in resilience, and we can use these same skills to find our emotional bearings during this difficult time.

We’ve spent the better part of 2020 intentionally creating habits to protect and grow our resilience. Now is the time to double down on those efforts. Whether it’s a media diet or daily movement, it’s vital to create space between ourselves and the headlines. These four resilience-building techniques can help us create the healthy emotional space we need to journey forward.


Being an informed citizen during this unprecedented time is important, but not at the expense of our mental health. Our brains regulate emotions differently during periods of upheaval, so it’s especially vital now to offset our biologic urge to scan for danger (by scrolling, reading, and watching the news). Consider setting a 20-minute timer twice daily to check the news…and then unplug. Making an intentional effort to adopt this healthy practice can keep our mental health and resilience steady during this disruptive time.

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During ordinary moments, most of us spend a disproportionate amount of time living in our heads. During periods of upheaval, this real estate is amplified. A key shift in feeling more grounded is to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Physical movement is often the most efficient path.

Incorporate a short 20-minute walk (the equivalent of one Facebook scroll) into your day. As you walk, bring your attention to your feet as they articulate with the ground. Your feet, with over 100 muscles and 60 bones and joints, have carried you far on this journey towards resilience. Let’s honor them.


Gratitude is a powerful force for good, but with so much loss and tumult around, it’s been difficult to summon its warmth. Remember, no matter what hell-scape we’re living through… we’re still standing. That counts for so much right now.

In prior years, January called for new year’s resolutions. This year hits so different, right? It’s less about seeking things out there and more about finding gratitude for what’s already inside our homes, ourselves, and especially each other. So forego your new year’s resolution list for an inventory of gratitude instead. Take a few minutes this week to ask yourself: What am I grateful for with my health? My family? My relationships with others? My work? And write it all down. Because documenting our personal victories (both big and small) can help us feel more resilient to meet life’s challenging moments like this one.

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We’ve been through so much this past year and the hits keep coming. It’s been difficult to process our grief. Honoring our emotional life is critical to building resilience. The science shows that writing about our challenges can be an incredibly therapeutic and healing process, even in the midst of the challenge itself.

Harley Therapy

One powerful writing technique we can adopt is to spend 20-25 minutes daily for four consecutive days writing about our grief and the challenges we’ve faced. Write about whatever comes to mind, examining all the nooks and crannies of your emotional life. Over the course of four consecutive days of writing, you’ll experience less emotional reactivity to the event. And these results can be lasting. This therapeutic writing exercise can be so helpful right now as we process our grief from current events, and it’s a proven way to build our resilience in the midst of difficult times.


The vaccine is here and the end is in sight. We’ve started to see glimmers of hope and respite from the dark tunnel of 2020. Brighter days are assuredly ahead in 2021.

In the meantime, as we wait for the tide to turn there’s still so much we can do so much to stay buoyant. Our hard-won resilience depends on it. Let’s forge onwards, together!


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