Space Inspiration

Tips for coping with lockdown? Ask an astronaut! 04-28-2020 |  5 minutes


In a recent live ESA broadcast, several astronauts – isolation specialists! – gave their advice for making the best of lockdown.


Samantha Cristoforetti pointed out that astronauts choose to go and spend time in the International Space Station and that they prepare for it thoroughly. Her first piece of advice is that there’s no benefit in “counting down the days”:

“Try to accept that this is the new normal, organize your time to make it as pleasant as possible. It’s going to be strange and stressful, so you need strategies. Like keeping in contact with people: arrange virtual get-togethers with friends and family, share your day with them in video chats. It’s also very important to take care of yourself. Paying attention to yourself helps you to be there for others.”

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    Back row, left to right: Tim Peake, Andreas Mogensen, Alexander Gerst, Luca Parmitano, Samantha Cristoforetti, Thomas Pesquet © ESA. D. Baumbach

    Thomas Pesquet said that it’s important to give yourself a sense of purpose with a specific goal. Our mission at the moment is to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and we are all in it and staying at home as much as possible is part of the mission. Thomas also recommends trusting the people who are managing the crisis and who are working for our wellbeing.

    Tom Jones explained about goal-setting by advising us to make daily “to-do” lists. He reminded us that this lockdown can also give us an opportunity to really focus on our priorities. Physical exercise is extremely important, too, as it helps us to reground ourselves and clear our minds.

    Jean-François Clervoy © NASA

    Jean-François Clervoy said he sets himself a specific task every day, related for example to teleworking or a job around the house. He organizes his schedule carefully and sticks to it. He summed up: “In space, it’s essential to follow all the safety rules. Same here. If we abide by all the advice that we’re being given, we will come through this crisis and celebrate the end of this mission.”

    Next was Tim Peake, who said he is sure that we will emerge from this period having changed, and he hopes that afterwards we will remember what we learn during this lockdown.

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      From left to right: Andreas Mogensen, Alexander Gerst, Samantha Cristoforetti, Thomas Pesquet, Luca Parmitano, Tim Peake © ESA

      Anousheh Ansari wrapped up the session by stressing the importance of adapting to our current circumstances as we would to any new environment – people are very good at adapting. Even so, we need to give ourselves time for this. She recommends making sure there is enough variety in our daily timetables, and keeping active – yoga, for example.

      She suggested making the most of the lockdown to learn new things (listen to podcasts, read and research interesting topics). Knowledge gives power; it makes us feel we’re more in control of a situation.” She ended by prompting those in lockdown to look up at the sky as often as possible: “Because that enables us to connect with something bigger than us – something that links us all together.”