Are you struggling to adjust to feelings of isolation while social distancing? In a recent episode of the Stay at Home Festival, a live stream brought to us by the Cosmic Shambles Network during COVID-19 isolation, astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield gives tips on how to cope with living in isolation:
Don’t just be afraid.
Understand what you’re afraid of. Actually become expert in the danger that surrounds you so that you don’t need to be afraid. The greatest antidote for fear is competence, understanding things. Dig into it: How did this disease start? What actually transmits it from person to person (for real)? How far away do you need to be? And then what are the early symptoms of it? How do you treat those symptoms? What are the odds for a person of your particular demographic? Who’s most at risk? Just become expert on it. It puts a lot of your fears at ease.
List your constraints.
What is deciding what I can do and what I can’t do? Maybe I’m taking care of an elderly person or someone with a medical condition or a little child. Or my main source of income has now dried up and I need to find another way to survive the next six weeks or two months without the normal income. What other work could I do? There’s lots of work cropping up right now that doesn’t necessarily need to be done right close to somebody. How am I going to deal with my particular set of constraints?
Make a list of things you want to do.
Give yourself permission. You’re a little crew in your little spaceship right now, essentially. What is our mission? What is success for us? It doesn’t need to impress anybody. It doesn’t need to be world-shaking. What are we going to try to get done in the next hour, or the next five hours, or by the end of today? What’s our objective for the next six weeks? What does success look like? Give yourself a list.
Start doing things. Pick something off the list and go do it. It’s so easy to drop into some sort of externally justified or precipitated lethargy, but don’t do that. On board a spaceship, you wake up at six o’clock in the morning. It’s a tiny little place. There’s no one there to take care of things but you, and you’re surrounded by the constant threat of meteorites and fires and all kinds of things. But there’s a million cool things to get done! Take advantage of where you are to do the things that you want, and start getting at your list.
That’s how we thrive on spaceships. If you can find a way to apply that to your little crew, hopefully it will be helpful.
Still feeling isolated? Here are some excellent memoirs to keep you company, written by the people who train their whole lives to learn how to live in an extremely isolated place surrounded by danger: astronauts.
*Please note that it is extremely important that you support your local independent bookstore right now. Many of them are suffering from being closed during the pandemic. You can check if your local bookstore is shipping by visiting their website or finding them on IndieBound.org. In each post during the pandemic, I’ll be linking to some stores that are still shipping, last I heard.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. His insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut and will change the way you view life on Earth, especially your own.
Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances by Leland Melvin
Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space. He served as mission specialist for two flights aboard the shuttle Atlantis, working on the International Space Station. As a chemist, athlete, engineer and space traveler, Leland’s life story is a study in the science of achievement.
Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space by Tim Peake
How does it feel to orbit the earth ten times faster than a speeding bullet? What’s it like to eat, sleep and go to the toilet in space? And where to next – the Moon, Mars or beyond? Ask an Astronaut is Tim’s personal guide to life in space, based on his historic Principia mission, and the thousands of questions he has been asked since his return to Earth.
Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of Invention by Kathryn D. Sullivan
The first American woman to walk in space recounts her experience as part of the team that launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained the Hubble Space Telescope. Along the way, Sullivan chronicles her early life as a “Sputnik Baby,” her path to NASA through oceanography, and her initiation into the space program as one of “thirty-five new guys.”
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly
The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly takes us inside a sphere utterly hostile to human life. Here, in his personal story, we see the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the infinite wonder of the galaxy.