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If you're struggling with quarantine right now, you might be seeking advice from someone who's been through some really extreme isolation. For example, with an astronaut who was part of the Mars-500 simulation study. Mars-500 was a psychological experiment by the European ESA, the Russian space agency Roskosmos and the Chinese CNSA. The goal? Finding out how humans fare in a space environment without actually sending anyone into space.

Here the crew spent 520 days together

Isolated Christmas and New Year

What was the Mars 500 mission?

The Mars-500 mission was divided into three main parts: a 250-day outbound flight to Mars, a 30-day stay in the Mars module, and a 250-day return flight to Earth. A total of 520 days of isolation. The crew consisted of six courageous volunteers from Russia, France, Italy and China. They spent their time in a simulated spacecraft and had to do without sunlight, fresh food, or fresh air. So they learned a thing or two about isolation, as did the scientists who studied them.

You can also talk to a small circle of friends

9 tips to survive the quarantine

One of the crew members, French engineer Romain Charles, recently appeared in an ESA video with nine helpful tips to stay mentally and physically he althy during COVID-19 isolation.

  • Remember that the situation is temporary. Things you want to do now but can't, you will be able to do later.
  • Keep busy. It's easy to get bored and sluggish in close quarters. So keep yourself busy with reading, music and other hobbies. Charles has done things like improve his Russian with his Russian crew members and get his Chinese colleague to teach him calligraphy.

Find and pursue a new hobby

  • Live in the present. Tackling one day at a time feels more manageable than thinking about long-term isolation.
  • Keep a regular cycle of day and night. People respond very well to regular sleep cycles and very poorly to broken ones. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Be creative. Break the monotony by trying new things and having fun. For example, Charles has adorable photos of the many different and increasingly ridiculous beard styles he's tried during isolation.
  • Keep in touch. You'll feel a lot better if you keep in touch with family and friends on a regular basis.
  • Consume energy. You need to burn off all that excess energy through exercise and activity.

Do gymnastics every morning

Active games keep you fit and entertained

  • Communication is everything. When you are in an enclosed space with others, tension can easily boil over. Communicate your needs and concerns.
  • Look for unexpected rewards. Charles describes the absolute joy he experienced eating fresh food for the first time after isolation. Things he used to take for granted became incredibly valuable to him.

Do karaoke and maybe learn to play a musical instrument too

The first moments outside the isolation chamber again

More Pro Tips

Romain Charles isn't the only astronaut to share valuable advice on the subject over the past few months. Famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recently shared his own tips with the world in a video. Isolation is an issue that Hadfield has plenty of experience with as well. Namely, he served as the commander of the International Space Station and spent a total of 166 days in space.

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