Not sure how to stay healthy and productive while isolating? Astronauts can help you out with that
The novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the deadly respiratory illness it causes, are continuing to spread around the globe. Over the weekend, the U.S. in particular saw huge, exponential growth in cases, with thousands of people testing positive for the illness now each day. That means social distancing is more important now than ever, and with a number of cities and states newly under “shelter in place” orders, people are increasingly being told to stay home and to perform only errands that are absolutely essential to life. Many people are finding the isolation to be tough, which is why astronauts gathered on social media over the weekend to share some of their best tips to help all of us get through this.
If there’s anyone who knows how to stay happy, healthy, and productive in isolation in a small space, it’s astronauts who have done stints on the International Space Station lasting months or even years. They also understand the struggles that can occur when you’re forced to combine your work and home environments into one. NASA’s Anne McClain had a long thread of good advice for that.
1/ One thing astronauts have to be good at: living in confined
spaces for long periods of time. Find yourself in a similar scenario? Here are
some pro tips…a thread.
— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
According to McClain, there are five important skills astronauts need to hone to live their best lives in the confines of a spacecraft. In her thread, she defined all of them, and shared how they can best be applied to living and working in isolation.
4/ Skill 1, Communication:— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
Def: To talk so you are clearly understood. To listen and
question to understand. Actively listen, pick up on non-verbal cues. Identify,
discuss, then work to resolve conflict.
5/ #GoodEB: Share info/feelings freely. Talk about intentions before taking action. Use good terminology. Discuss when your or others’ actions were not as expected. Debrief after success or conflict. Listen, then restate message to ensure its understood. Admit when you’re wrong.— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
6/ Skill 2, Leadership/Followership:— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
Def: How well a team adapts to new situations. Leader enhances the group’s ability to execute its purpose through positive influence. Follower (aka
subordinate leader) actively contributes to leader’s direction. Establish
environment of trust.
7/ #GoodEB: Accept responsibility. Adjust style to environment. Assign tasks, set goals. Lead by example. Give direction, info, feedback, coaching + encouragement. Ensure teammates have resources. Talk when something isn’t right. Ask questions. Offer solutions, not just problems.— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
8/ Skill 3, Self-Care:— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
Def: How healthy you are on psychological and physical levels, including hygiene, managing time and personal stuff, getting sleep, and maintaining mood. The ability and willingness to be proactive to stay healthy.
9/ #GoodEB: Realistically assess own strengths and weaknesses, and their influence on the group. Learn from mistakes. Take action to mitigate stress or negativity (don't pass on to the group). Be social. Seek feedback. Balance work, rest, and personal time. Be organized.— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
10/ Skill 4, Team Care:— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
Def: How healthy the group is on psychological, physical, and logistical level.
Manage group stress, fatigue, sickness, supplies, resources, workload, etc. Nurture optimal team performance despite challenges.
11/ #GoodEB: Demonstrate patience and respect. Encourage others. Monitor team for signs of stress or fatigue. Encourage participation in team activities. Develop positive relationships. Volunteer for the unpleasant tasks. Offer and accept help. Share the credit; take the blame.— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
12/ Skill 5, Group Living:— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
Def: How people cooperate and become a team to achieve a
goal. Identify and manage different opinions, cultures, perceptions, skills, and
personalities. Individuals and group demonstrate resiliency in the face of difficulty.
13/ #GoodEB: Cooperate rather than compete. Actively cultivate group culture (use each individual's culture to build the whole). Respect roles, responsibilities, and workload. Take accountability, give praise freely. Work to ensure positive team attitude. Keep calm in conflict.— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
McClain ended her thread with a little encouragement.
14/ That's it! We are all astronauts on planet Earth together. We'll be successful in confinement if we are intentional about our actions and deliberate about caring for our teams. Now, please reply and share some examples of #GoodEB that you've seen - and stay #EarthStrong— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 22, 2020
She’s not the only astronaut sharing tips. Canada’s Chris Hadfield, who was famous for making video blogs during his time living on the International Space Station, had some tips of his own.
Fantastic advice on dealing with isolation from astronaut @Cmdr_Hadfield who knows a thing or two about being alone:
1. Know the actual risk
2. Know your objective
3. Know your obligations
4. Take action
— Chris Agos (@ChrisAgos) March 22, 2020
And NASA’s Scott Kelly wrote in to the New York Times to share some of his favorite tips, which ranged from problem solving during a time of crisis, to staying in physical shape when confined to a small space like your home or apartment.
— Kori Schake (@KoriSchake) March 22, 2020
“You don’t need to work out two and a half hours a day, as astronauts on the space station do, but getting moving once a day should be part of your quarantine schedule (just stay at least six feet away from others).” https://t.co/nVTbCNFOej by @StationCDRKelly @nytopinion
— Phillip Carter (@Carter_PE) March 22, 2020
All-in-all, the self isolation many of us are experiencing right now is very different from living in space for months on end. But there are enough similarities that advice from astronauts can definitely help us better navigate these uncharted waters. Hopefully, our isolation will be over long before the months that astronauts spend in space, but only if we all do our part and keep up that social distancing to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.