Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Feeling confined? Tips from an astronaut

Astronaut Christina Koch, 41, recently returned from 328 days living on the International Space Station. The station is like a cluster of pressurized aluminum bubbles. It feels like living in the boiler room in the basement of a large building. She lived with a small group, and there was no way to leave. Their workspace was also their living space, and their only connection with friends was through video chat.

Today everyone is in an oddly similar situation, and Koch has some advice. She says the way to think about this new normal is to look at it as if it were "a new planet to explore. There will be things you can't do, but we're almost like a new group of people now, operating under a completely different set of rules. What are the new things people can do on this new planet?" She says we all should have objectives every single day. "What do I want to get done in the next 10 minutes? What do I want to do in the next hour?" Overcome loneliness and separation from friends via video chats, and remember -- adapting to virtual relationships means more than just chatting. It means doing fun things together while apart, in the same physical time. For example, when her friends on earth ran a 10K race one Saturday, she raced with them on her treadmill in space, punching her time at the same time they left the starting line. She advises, "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."

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