Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly knows a thing or two about living in isolation.
Kelly, 56, spent 340 consecutive days in space on the International Space Station — and now that much of the world has been forced to isolate themselves in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak, he’s sharing some of the tips and tricks he’s learned along the way.
“It was so far away in the future that my expectations were, this is where I live now,” he said. “And then I have to deal with it, and some day it will be over. And I think that’s what people need to have, that kind of mindset.”
Kelly explained that he knows the “uncertainty” of when the coronavirus outbreak will end is stressful and challenging, but that taking the threat seriously and accepting the new reality were important factors in pushing through.
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He also stressed the importance of maintaining a schedule, and, as he wrote in a New York Times op-ed, a consistent bedtime.
“I found as I got used to [the schedule], I actually needed it. And when I got home, I’d miss it,” he told GMA. “You need to schedule things like work, rest, taking care of your environment… Take time to go outside if you can. Sunlight and nature is so very, very important to our health.”
Also important to include in the schedule is time for hobbies, like learning an instrument, reading or binge-watching TV. Kelly’s show of choice? Game of Thrones, he wrote in the Times.
As for dealing with feelings, Kelly said it helps to jot things down in a journal, something he said he did nearly every day he was in space.
“If you’re feeling a certain way, writing it down, being honest with yourself about it, is the best possible thing you can do,” he said. “And then when this is all over someday, we can look back at this time, one of the most challenging times in our country, and you can have a record of what it was like for you and what you did.”
Kelly capped off his advice with some for people self-isolating with others, be it friends, family or roommates.
The astronaut noted the importance of taking into account others’ strengths and weaknesses, and being understanding of those.
“You need to understand, first of all, who is your crew on this mission?” he told GMA. “Understand that we’re all in this together. If you’re feeling stressed, talk about it. And that’s how we work through these things.”
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