In the space of a couple of weeks, because of COVID-19, we have all had to adapt our habitual ways of life radically. We spoke to CERN Alumnus and former astronaut Christer Fuglesang [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christer_Fuglesang] to find out how he coped with isolation on the International Space Station (ISS) and what advice he could give us to make it through this period of confinement:
‘I never felt isolated when I was in space. I think it was because I could contact my family and friends regularly, via email and a Skype-like system. In 1979 I sailed across the Atlantic with three others and we had no connection with anyone for three weeks.
But the big difference compared to what is happening now is that these “adventures” were all planned and I did them because I wanted to and I enjoyed them.
We are now forced to stay apart so it is harder to handle. Still, from my experience, what helps is to plan your time, keep busy, connect with people as you can (phones, internet). Mix work with physical activity (on the International Space Station ISS the crew has two training sessions each day, though mainly to stay physically healthy, but it certainly helps psychologically) and your hobbies.
Do it on a scheduled basis – and eat regularly. Perhaps the most important advice is to just accept the situation and stay positive! If one can´t do anything to change the situation, well then just accept it. In a few months we should be back to normal. ‘
If you want escape into space, check out Christer’s fantastic talk at CERN Alumni First Collisions here: https://cds.cern.ch/record/2303354? (login with your alumni.cern credentials)
CERN is now in safe mode with most people teleworking and within the CERN Alumni team, we will be sharing our ideas on how to cope with confinement and we’d be delighted if you would also share your ideas with the community, by posting them on the alumni.cern live feed. Check out Rachel’s top tip for handling confinement on the alumni live feed: https://alumni.cern/news/268285
Christer, demonstrating sleep techniques when in space
Building 40, empty