If there is one group of people who know all about isolation it’s astronauts, and they have been taking to Twitter, and radio to share their tips for how people can pass the time during the Coronavirus shutdowns most effectively.
The first thing you are going to want to do according to astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is already in standard NASA quarantine and about to spend six months on the ISS, is try to stick to your normal schedule.
“If everybody just kind of lounges around and doesn’t get up until 11:00, and nobody’s brushing their hair or their teeth, not only do you look cr*ppy and you feel cr*ppy, but you just get in that funk. So sticking to a Monday-through-Friday routine is probably the most basic thing that I would recommend to folks,” he told National Geographic.
Cassidy, a U.S. Navy captain and former SEAL, is set to join cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the ISS, where he will command the space station for a total of six months as part of Expedition 63, with only the other two as company.
“There were times on my Navy deployments where I had a lull in operational activity, and we found that it was really healthy for the group to stay in some sort of normal routine,” he explained.
Don’t lose track of having fun
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent almost a full year in space in 2015 and 2016 agrees, adding that being in one place all the time it’s easy to lose track of having fun.
“When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it,” he said. “Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge-watched all of “Game of Thrones” — twice.”
He stressed the importance of a consistent bedtime and remembering to go outside and experience nature. When that’s not possible, he suggested something his colleagues relied on, recordings of Earth sounds, like birds calling and trees rustling.
Finally, Kelly took to Twitter on March 14 to say, “One thing I learned in my twenty years at NASA is that most problems aren’t rocket-science, but when they are rocket-science, you should ask a rocket-scientist.” This was accompanied by a link to the Center for Disease Control webpage presumably meaning that during these times, we should trust advice from public health experts.
In an interview with CBS in America astronaut Peggy Whitson explained that if you are in quarantine with others there are going to be flashpoints and disagreements and that effective communication will be the key to getting through them.
“You have to be able to communicate effectively,” she said, adding that recognising the team is all struggling and that you are all having a hard time, makes dealing with disagreements that much easier.
“We always think we have these ideas we are communicating, but now, more than ever, it will be important to ensure that the words we are using are actually saying the things we want them to say,” she said.
“We are quarantining together to save lives. Never forget that. It’s important to understand that bigger purpose, and embrace that bigger purpose, to give you the reason and rationale for continuing to put up with the situation.
Finally, Astronaut Ann McClain stated very simply on Twitter, “Reminder that stress happens when expectations aren’t in line with reality. When we can’t change reality, it’s best to focus on our expectations. Expect to do things differently. Expect to need to adapt. Expect to be out of your comfort zone. Expect to put others first.”
Watch a full interview on isolation with Scott Kelly here:
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