14:08 PM

How to Survive Social Distancing (From 250 Miles Above Earth)



An astronaut shares how she coped with living in confined spaces for long periods of time.​

With social distancing guidelines will be in place at least until the end of April, many people are worried about staying at home that long without the interpersonal connections they have relied on their whole lives.

These fears are not unfounded. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and increase stress and depression. If you’re wondering how best to cope with this situation, it may be helpful to follow the advice of someone who has practiced extreme social distancing for their entire career.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain knows what it means to be separated from her loved ones, living months on end in the cramped confines of a space station. While this environment is not the same as self-quarantining back on Earth, many of her lessons still apply.

She follows what NASA astronauts call “Expeditionary Behavior,” a series of five skills that help create a healthy culture for living and working remotely in small groups: communication, leadership/followership, self-care, team care and group living.

These skills adhere to the framework provided by mental health professionals for managing the emotional toll of social distancing, including strategies from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) to reduce the anxiety and stress of coping with COVID-19.

Read more about McClain’s tips and think how you can apply them to your family’s life through this month – and beyond.

If social distancing is making you feel isolated or depressed, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ) can help you find someone to talk to about how you are feeling. Here’s how to get connected to mental health care.