We are all learning how to self isolate in different ways. For the majority of us, our lives and daily routines have been turned upside down, and this adaption process can take time. However, we can use this time to check some things off our bucket list or find new and inventive ways to communicate with each other and maintain our relationships. A recent piece by the New York Times highlighted NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who provided valuable insight on how to survive isolation. While the lifestyle of a NASA astronaut may seem like a far cry from our own, we are all human and can benefit from isolation skills regarding how to care for our mental health and how to avoid losing the communication and relationships that we all crave.
Kelly cites structure and communication as key factors in maintaining some sense of normalcy and sanity during stressful times that require isolation. For many of us, we are lucky enough that our isolation is occurring in the comfort of our own homes, not the high stress environment of space!
On the importance of structure, Kelly writes:
“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.” Social isolation does not have to mean distancing from relationships themselves; we can hop on Netflix Party or go on FaceTime to maintain the human emotional experience that we all crave so much. Kelly tells us that it’s also important to have structure in terms of your sleep schedule; wake up and go to bed at the same time each day to give your body a routine. This tells your body that everything is business as usual and should help you continue to have productive days, whether you are now taking classes online or are working remotely.
“Kelly also recommends pastimes such as reading, playing an instrument, honing a new skill (we love this football/glazier fusion), penning a diary, and keeping in touch with friends and family via video calls” . This can even be used as a time to explore a passion or interest that you previously thought you didn’t have time for. We can use this as a time of personal progression rather than regression. ISS Commander Chris Hadfield breaks isolation down into four steps: “know the risk, assess your goals, understand your constraints, and take action”.
While the lifestyles of those with more “extreme” jobs such as Hadfield and Kelly may seem like a far cry from the realities of our own, we can take plays from their playbook as to how we can make the most out of this time and come out the other side even stronger.