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How to survive self isolation, according to an astronaut

With so many of us staying home and practicing social distancing due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, people are thinking about how to stay sane and achieve some goals while stuck in self-isolation. To help with this, retired Canadian astronaut and national treasure Chris Hadfield has made a video offering advice on how to cope with isolation.

It’s a topic Hadfield has plenty of experience with, having served as commander of the International Space Station and having spent a total of 166 days in space, dealing with cramped conditions and limited social contact.

“I’ve spent a little time self-isolation on board a spaceship,” Hadfield began his video. “It’s an extremely dangerous environment up on board the space station, and yet we find a way to thrive and be productive that far away from our normal lives.”

An Astronaut's Guide to Self Isolation

He offered four tips for those struggling with self-isolation:

  1. Understand the actual risk. Hadfield said that generalized fear is not helpful and that people should look to credible sources to find out the real level of risk that they personally are facing based on their particular situation.
  2. What’s your mission? Hadfield suggested people pick a mission or think about their objectives, and try to decide what they hope to achieve and what they want to get done.
  3. Look at your constraints. As well as the need to stay away from others, consider factors like financial resources and your obligations.
  4. Take action. Once you know what you want to achieve and what your limitations are, you can start acting, whether that’s taking care of family members, learning an instrument, studying a language, reading, writing, or any other activity. “It’s a chance to do something different,” Hadfield said.

Hadfield also encouraged those who have symptoms or who have come into contact with a confirmed coronavirus case to self-isolate. Other astronauts have also called for the public to listen to scientific authorities, with Scott Kelly, the astronaut famous for being one half of NASA’s twin study, calling on people to follow the advice of the experts and linking to the official CDC webpage for the outbreak.

We’ll get through this together by following the advice of the experts.

— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 14, 2020

Hadfield summed up his video with a call for people to “Take care of yourself. Take care of your family. Take care of your friends. Take care of your spaceship.”

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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