I recently read Scott Kelly’s opinion piece in the New York Times about his isolation in space and while it was interesting, I didn’t find it terribly insightful.
Among his tips were: follow a schedule, go outside, take time to connect – all things I was doing already.
But what else could I do?
For that, I looked to the military and no one knows how to deal with isolation better than Army snipers who often spend weeks at a time cut off from their unit.
So what do they do to deal with isolation?
Here’s a few tips from Kevin Sipes, First Sergeant Army Sniper from Texas in an article from Business Insider:
Break down the problem – “focus on the next meal” is what he did. That way he didn’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of his long time in isolation. Same thing for us. Break down your day and keep your focus on the present task and then transition to the next one.
Improve your position – for Sipes, he’d improve his cover. Now that I’m spending more time at my desk, I realized my chair was worn and uncomfortable so I bought a new one. I also make sure I am getting enough natural light coming in. I pay more attention to my plants. I’m doing everything I can to improve my environment. What can you do?
Think about things you’ll do when it’s over – it’s important psychologically to regain some control during circumstances when you have little of it. We can’t control exactly when this will end but we can control what we’ll do when it does. Give yourself time to visualize what you’ll do.
Remember, it’s not all about you – for Sipes and anyone in the military, they must do their job or someone dies. Same for us now. Our job is to shelter in place to protect ourselves but also to protect others. Keep your mindset on “we” rather than “me”.