Self-isolation coping tips from the truly experienced experts

So you're dutifully self-isolating by sheltering in place but you're not so dutifully getting fatter, becoming crazier, getting drunker and/or any combination of those. And more.  Even Tiger King is getting boring as are all the other electronic entertainment or learning options that have so quickly sprung up.  

What to do?  Perhaps the advice from those who were truly extremely isolated under extremely different circumstances – now-retired astronaut Scott Kelly in space and Natan Sharansky in a Soviet prison -- can help.

Kelly,  who "commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission to the ISS. In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut" offered these tips last week in the New York Times.

Follow a schedule

You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without. (snip)

But pace yourself (snip)

And don’t forget to include in your schedule a consistent bedtime. (snip)

Go outside (snip)

You need a hobby (snip) The quiet and absorption you can find in a physical book -- one that doesn’t ping you with notifications or tempt you to open a new tab -- is priceless. (snip)

Keep a journal  Even if you don’t wind up writing a book based on your journal like I did, writing about your days will help put your experiences in perspective and let you look back later on what this unique time in history has meant.(snip)

Take time to connect (snip)

Listen to experts  (snip)

We are all connected

He finished with the reminder "Oh, and wash your hands -- often."  

Good ideas.  I can relate to... well, most of them.  It is often hard to find experts I can trust.

Kelly's advice is somewhat similar to Sharansky's, who in literally another universe, the former USSR, "was arrested for my Zionist activity. I spent nine years in prison, half of it in solitary confinement and 405 days in a punishment cell" also had some useful suggestions.  

  • Tip 1: In prison I always had to remind myself I am part of a huge, global battle. You also should remind yourself that we are at war with a very dangerous, though invisible, enemy. And whether we will succeed in the battle depends also on your behavior.
  • Tip 2: In prison, I didn't know when I will be released or if I will be released at all. Don't build your future plans based on the hope that in the next few days, or the next few weeks, it all will be finished. It does not depend on you. So try to build plans which fully depend on you.
  • Tip 3: Never give up your sense of humor. (snip)
  • Tip 4: Don't give up on your hobbies. (snip)
  • Tip 5: Feel your connection. Remember that you are not alone. We Jews, for thousands of years, were scattered all over the world. But we always had this feeling that we are part of a great people, with our mutual past, with our mutual future, and with our mutual mission. Think about it. Feel your connection. Together we will succeed. 

Kelly, whose nearly year-long space mission from March 2015 to March 2016 was to study the effects of space on the human body, is now safely back on Planet Earth, living in Houston, Texas where he writes and does public appearances.  He is fine.

Sharansky was released from prison in February 1986 and immediately emigrated to Israel, later joining its government among other accomplishments.  He is fine.  

The USSR is no more.  And someday Wuhan coronavirus-19 will be tamed.  And, though eventually we will be somewhat altered from our present forced self-isolating experience, as were Kelly and Sharansky,  because we "wash (y)our hands" -- and more -- "we will succeed."  And we will be fine.