Resilience is about surviving, adapting, and adjusting during and after adversity — while continuing to maintain one’s integrity or core values.[i]

Many organizations have offered tips for getting through this community trauma. In fact, we’ve been inundated with tips. Here are just four essential touchstones that can help us maintain, recover or develop our balance and well-being in the months ahead of us.  

ROUTINE                    RITUAL                   PEOPLE                 PLACES

ROUTINE  Do you remember the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010? They had to endure those long days and weeks in a tiny, dark space 2,300 feet down. They were discovered after 17 days, and rescued after more than two months.

The first thing they did to survive was to create a ROUTINE. They rose at the same time every day (even though it was constantly dark.) They spent time working: hacking, chipping and shoveling away the stone. They spent time talking with each other and telling stories. They took time to sit down together to eat, though each man had only a bite of tuna and a sip of milk every day. They spent time praying.

During the time you are staying home, you can create a daily routine and a weekly routine. (There is an example of a routine in Appendix 1.)  You might want to include: 1. Adequate sleep. Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time daily (except maybe on weekends.) 2. Prepare and eat nutritious food. Don’t just grab something out of the fridge, but prepare it, set the table, sit down and savor it. 3. Exercise according to your ability. 4. Go outdoors. 5. Connect with another person. 6. Do some productive work, whether it is cleaning, gardening, repairing or sorting pictures. 7. Cultivate your artistic side: make music, draw, build something, write, take photos, scrapbook. Do whatever expresses your own unique creativity. 8. Limit your ingestion of the news each day. 9. Laugh. 

Develop a weekly routine, too, so you have something to look forward to. Save some special food that you’ll prepare on Saturday or Sunday. Choose your favorite movie to watch and save it for the weekend. If you are religious, watch a podcast or zoom with a congregation on Sunday morning. Find a way that works for you to mark special days every week, so you can anticipate those days.  

RITUAL Rituals aren’t just actions associated with particular religions. Anyone can form a ritual. The purpose of a ritual is to create “liminal space” — a threshold where new insight, change, connection with a deeper self or deeper meaning can grow. The most transformative rituals engage all the senses and are set apart from everyday events in time and space.[ii]

Sometimes rituals spark a welling up of gratitude or well-being. Other times rituals give expression to loss, grief or fear that enables us to acknowledge and release pent-up emotions.  

You can practice concrete ways to connect with something greater than yourself. (An example of a secular ritual is included in Appendix 2.) If you are religious, light a candle and play appropriate music as you pray for people you love, for our country and the world. Make a place in your yard to meditate. If you aren’t religious, choose some symbol or act to acknowledge loss, express gratitude and renew hope. Using rituals helps us to experience deeper meaning and hope in each day. 

PEOPLE  Whether you are living alone or ensconced elbow to elbow in a small space with a large family, it is difficult to connect with others. When you are by yourself, you have to take the initiative to reach out by phone or email (or Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangout.) If you are living in a crowded household, you may need to be intentional about finding time to have a meaningful conversation. You can call someone who might be having a tough time, renew a friendship from your past or phone relatives or close friends. Many people are starved to have someone to talk to, so your phone call will be welcome. 

Community trauma can trigger a breakdown of networks of trust and solidarity within and between communities. In order to thrive after this time of crisis, those connections need to be intentionally nurtured — reinforced rather than undermined. Be aware of the ways you act and communicate, online or in person, to strengthen bonds and trust, both in your personal relationships and in institutions of society. 

PLACES  Fresh air, the sounds of birds or peepers and sun on your face are all natural anti-depressants. Even sitting outside in the rain and chill can give you a new perspective. Make it a habit to get outside once a day, even if it is perched on your front stoop. 


The story of the Chilean miners had a happy ending. After 69 days, they came up out of the hellhole, and were restored to their lives. Their lives weren’t the same ones they had led before. They had now experienced trauma. They also had developed a deeper appreciation for many things they had taken for granted previously. They had discovered new insights about themselves, about life, about work. 

For us, there is great hope. We know there will be a time when the worst of this pandemic is a distant memory. We will be out and about. We will be going to restaurants and football games again. We’ll visit our loved ones and hug them. Our economy will be recovering. We will be healing from the trauma we’ve gone through together. We will have new insight about ourselves, about the things in our lives that are most important, and about how we want to live the same and live differently in our world. Practicing the touchstones of resilience can help us to thrive, both during this time of quarantine and in our time of restoration.



Example of a daily schedule. Thank you to Richard Opper.

1) Get out of bed no longer than one hour later than usual. Your aches and pains will actually be less and your mind will be clearer. 

2) After the bathroom stop; make your bed and lay out all clean clothes for the day. 

3) Shower or bathe, shave do your hair check your nails and even light make-up. 

4) Prepare breakfast that you have planned the night before. 

5) Afterwards, sit for a half-hour and listen to the radio, TV or scroll Facebook or read. 

6) Step outside for fresh air and sun or open a window and take a couple of deep breaths or sit outside or take a short walk. 

7) Meditate, pray, relaxation exercise for 15-30 min.

8) Do tippy toe knee bends and wall push-ups for 10 min.

9) Sit and relax for 20 min. 

10) Continue a home project for one hour, such as cleaning and rearranging all kitchen cabinets and drawers.

11) After a light lunch; take a one-hour nap. Even if you can’t fall asleep just close your eyes and visualize your best vacation. 

12) Go outside and walk a bit. (If you can’t get out walk 100 steps in the house.)

13) Continue a different chore for one hour, such as laundry, ironing, cleaning out a closet or storage bins.

14) Hint: take your time and make the chores last. 

15) Plan and organize your supper meal and reevaluate your grocery needs for the next week. 

16) After supper; clean kitchen, communicate with family and friends, watch a movie, read, listen to music, play computer chess or checkers or watch lectures on YouTube 

17) Say your prayers and go to sleep no later than 10 pm.

You get the idea. Plan and initiate strategies to keep your mind and body stimulated which will fight off anxiety and depression and boredom. You can do this.


An example of a ritual

Gather ten stones or any small object, a bowl to put them in and a small cloth. You can sit in a quiet place in your house or outside. Play music or sing a contemplative song to yourself. Hold a stone in your hand and feel its shape and texture. As you hold the stone, name a loss you personally have experienced. Put the stone down beside the bowl. Pick up each stone in the bowl and name a loss. When you have finished, pick the bowl up and symbolically empty it out. Hold it upside down, wipe it out with a cloth. Put the bowl back down and choose a hopeful piece of music. Once again, pick up each stone and hold it. However, this time, name something you are grateful for. As you name it, place it back in the bowl. Take ten out each day, as you take them out, name something you are grateful for.

[i] The word “resilience” is used in physics to describe the capacity of a substance to bend but not break. In people, it is the capacity of individuals and communities to adapt, to survive and to bounce back during or after hardship and adversity. It is the capacity to maintain core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. (Zolli, Andrew and Healy, Ann M, Why Things Bounce Back, 2012) 

[ii] Schirch, Lisa   Ritual and Symbol in Peace-building 2004


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