Listening to an astronaut’s perspective on thriving in isolation isn’t something you get to do every day, so I was excited to tune into the Tim Peake, Astronaut – Thriving in Isolation webinar organised by Qualtrics earlier this week.
Tim was a military pilot who joined the European Space Agency in 2009. He was the first British ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station, launching on a Soyuz rocket on 15 December 2015 with crewmates Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko.
There is a lot that we can learn from Tim that could be helpful to us all during this current period of lockdown and isolation if we look at his experiences both preparing for and living in space for six months.
In relation to lockdown and isolation Tim emphasised the following points:
Work to a schedule and routine
Make sure that you include breaks for lunch and take time out whether it be for exercise or for mental relaxation during the day.
During this period we have all lost control of many aspects of what we can do in our daily lives and so it is important to regain control. Where possible it should be up to you when you exercise and take breaks as long as you are delivering what is required and expected for your employer.
Invest in Essential Skills
Understand the importance of training in resilience, motivation, communication and human interaction during periods of isolation.
Do your best to avoid conflict by being aware of how you and others feel and recognising the signs of conflict early. Either step away from the situation to allow perspective or ‘nip things in the bud’ if necessary
Maintaining motivation while working in isolation can be particularly challenging. Staying motivated can be easier when you are busy but when you feel you are not living up to your own expectations it might be worth considering different working practices or a fresh direction in how you are approaching certain aspects of your work.
Isolation vs Loneliness
It is important to understand the difference between isolation and loneliness. In space (or in lockdown) you may feel isolated but you do not need to feel lonely. Speak with family, friends and colleagues daily and speak openly about how you feel.
Take a Wider Perspective
From outer space Tim saw the Aurora Borealis in full bloom and was able to witness the change in our planet including glacial melting, to inland lakes retreating and the Amazon Forest disappearing with areas the size of Ireland being cut down every year. This only increased his connection that the earth is our home planet and that we all have a collective responsibility in wakening up to climate change and ensuring sustainability for the future.
As we all prepare for a winter of continued restrictions to our personal and working lives, the key themes that will help us to thrive and survive during this period are formal training to prepare us, setting and sticking to a routine, taking control where we can and most important of all communicating regularly with the people that matter most, family and friends.
Derek Lauder, CFO Services, Rutherford Cross. Contact [email protected]