Building resilience through gratitude.

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The year 2020 (and now 2021) tested our resilience as we navigate living through a pandemic. We’ve had to modify how we work, stay distanced from friends and family, delay or significantly modify celebrations, and cancel travel plans. We have pushed ourselves to identify some of the silver linings – comfort with online video platforms, extra time with the people in our home, more flexible work schedules, and, for some, more time for hobbies and self-care.

Like many colleagues and friends, I have experienced highs and lows since March. I go through good phases where I feel like I’m managing well, prioritizing self-care, learning new things, and making new friends virtually. Then I wake up one day feeling dragged down into a sense of monotony and boredom.

When will this end?

Latke, our Goldendoodle

In late August, we realized that the pandemic would not be over anytime soon, so I planned an escape. We rented an apartment in Florida for a month and, in mid-December, we drove down from NJ with our two dogs.

A few days after arriving, our older dog (a 14-year-old Goldendoodle) appeared to be in distress. Our attempts to calm her and a visit to the 24-hour animal clinic were unsuccessful, and our beloved dog passed away.

The following day, still grieving, I woke up to severe abdominal pain. I could not pinpoint the cause – it was unlike any food poisoning or stomach virus. After many hours curled up in a ball on my bed, I landed in the ER; it was appendicitis.

There I was, far from home, in an unfamiliar hospital, alone (no visitors due to COVID), undergoing surgery to have my appendix removed. The final gut punch.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital

And yet, I am grateful.

Our beloved dog suffered for less than a day, and we were with her as she took her final breath. She was not alone and passed, knowing how much we loved her. Working from home meant we spent all day with her for the past nine months.

Despite the severe pain I had before the appendectomy, I was in good hands at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I am so appreciative of the entire team of doctors, nurses, and staff who cared for me.

With all that we have been through in 2020, the end of the year continued to test me. Research indicates that being grateful helps us build resilience. Having dealt with this one-two punch of adversity has shown me that my practice of gratitude enabled me to cope more easily.

I recognize that you and others may have had far worse things to manage during this challenging time. How might you use gratitude to help you through?

I am happy to have recuperated in the Florida sunshine and recently returned home with renewed energy to start strong in 2021.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

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