An Astronaut Trainer’s Advice on How to Cope With Isolation

If you’re going a little stir crazy after self-isolating during the coronavirus crisis, you’re not alone. Lifehacker looked to an expert in isolation, former NASA consultant D. Marshall Porterfield, who served five years working with astrounauts who had to live in cramped quarters for up to six months at a time. Here are some of Porterfield’s recommendations for coping with isolation:

  • Develop a routine. A rigorous schedule helps maintain a sense of normalcy and also provides structure to the day. “If you are working from home, maintaining a normal schedule is important,” Porterfield says. This includes trying to adhere to a regular schedule as much as possible, one that includes time with family, as well as time for fitness.
  • Stay active. Astronauts would schedule up to two hours of physical activity per day. If you don’t already have a regular workout routine, “now is a good time to start one,” Porterfield says.
  • Call, email or text with friends and family. “If you know someone is on their own, a phone call, email, just letting them know that you are thinking of them is important,” Porterfield says. “These kinds of interactions are very powerful.”
  • Have a purpose. While astronauts purpose is built into their mission, you are also doing good. “We have a mission. We are trying to flatten the curve,” Porterfield says. “We are all in this together.”