Mayday: An Astronaut’s Guide to Learning to Cope With Isolation

astronaut on a toilet seat
astronaut on a toilet seat
Image by Thomas Malyska from Pixabay

There are a select few who know the pains (both physical and mental) associated with prolonged periods of isolation. Astronauts like Scott Kelly, who spent time on the International Space Station, and D. Marshall Porterfield, NASA’s former Space Life and Physical Sciences Division Director, are all too familiar with the concept of coping with a life spent, periodically, at arm’s length (or longer). Here are some tips on how to live with those overwhelming feelings of loneliness—straight from the experts.

Tune out the Noise

Can you imagine if astronauts in space took work advice from social media influencers and celebrities? They wouldn’t—and neither should you. During a pandemic, people love to hypothesize and play-up media panic in their posts and feeds. This type of “news” is no good for your mental health. If you must read up on COVID-19 information, make sure you look to the experts only.

Connect With Loved Ones

There are countless methods for keeping in touch with family and friends during quarantine. For those with older relatives who may not be able to work those snazzy Zoom chats, even a simple e-mail will suffice. Anything to let others know you are thriving, or at least, surviving.

Keep Fit

According to a study, loneliness may have a genetically detrimental effect on our overall health—and that’s not even counting the extended periods of sofa time. It is very important to incorporate exercise into your day. Astronauts can exercise in zero gravity. You might not fare as well. So go outside and walk around provided you are on your own, or with one other person with whom you are co-isolating.

Find Meaning in Every Day

Each day you find yourself in quarantine has purpose: you are staying indoors to protect yourself and others. However, don’t get too caught up in the nothingness. If you can work from home, great. If not, wake up each morning and look for something to do that will give your day meaning while passing the time—finish reading a book, learn a new language, etc.