Coronavirus advice: Astronauts’ tips to surviving self-isolation – ‘Just like the ISS’

Coronavirus infections have surged past 400,000 globally as more countries announce nationwide lockdowns. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the nation to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Today (March 25) India implemented its own lockdown for the next 21 days.

The draconian measures are being enforced after coronavirus infections rapidly accelerated from mid-March.

And though many people will isolate at home with their closest family, there is a growing concern about the mental health of those struggling to deal with loneliness during this crisis.

In a bid to help those in need, astronauts who have lived off-planet for months at a time, shared advice on how to cope with isolation.


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How to survive the coronavirus isolation the astronaut way

According to NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who lived on the International Space Station (ISS) across three missions, the key to survival is communication.

While on the ISS, the astronaut lived 250 miles (402km) above the planet, with limited contact with the outside world.

She told CBS This Morning: “It’s actually very doable but it’s important to be able to interact well with the people that you’re staying with.

“And interesting, a lot of people are trying to work from home, and trying to be parents from home, and have a family from home.

“So it becomes very challenging but that’s just like what we did on board the International Space Station.

“Our space station crew became our family in orbit and we had to not only work with them all throughout the day, we couldn’t go home at night.

COVID-19 gives us a higher purpose much

Peggy Whitson, former NASA astronaut

“We stayed on the station and had to interact as well.”

The astronaut said it is critical to be able to communicate well with those around you in situations where your life depends on it.

She added a good motivator to keep spirits high is acknowledging it is all being done for the greater good.

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She added: “COVID-19 gives us a higher purpose much like being in space does because we are saving lives by quarantine.

“It is important to understand that bigger purpose and to embrace that purpose to give you reason and rationale for continuing to put up with the situation.”

The astronaut then suggested people consider taking up activities such as reading or writing to occupy their time.

Astronaut Scott Kelly, who served NASA on the ISS and space shuttle programme, had similar thoughts about self-isolating.

In an article penned for the New York Times, the spaceflight veteran spoke about the importance of having a strict schedule.

On the ISS, astronauts follow very detailed schedules for work and leisure that dictate their lives down to the minute.

The astronaut said: “You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment.

“When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without.”

He added: “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.”

The Mental Health Foundation has an online guideline on how to take care of your wellbeing during the lockdown.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus, self-isolating or the Government lockdown?

Get in touch with us and will ask an expert to find the answers for you. Email your question to [email protected]

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