How to stay mentally healthy in space
2022-10-20 - Astronauts have a stressful, high-pressure job that can be mentally draining. Thankfully, there are various strategies, tools and training to help them stay mentally healthy. Some of these can help you cope with challenging situations here on Earth, too! (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)
Astronauts have a stressful, high-pressure job that can be mentally draining. Thankfully, there are various strategies, tools and training to help them stay mentally healthy. Some of these can help you cope with challenging situations here on Earth, too!
Being physically healthy is important to stay mentally well. Eating a healthy diet, exercising every day and sleeping well are key. Special lighting, noise cancelling earbuds and sleep masks, sleep pods and relaxation time support good sleeping habits.
Relaxation and self-care
Astronauts have downtime built into their schedule. They often relax by watching Earth go by. Some read books, play an instrument or listen to music. They can connect with loved ones and spend time writing, meditating or practising their religious traditions.
Astronauts live in close quarters for a long time – might as well make it fun! Meals are a great opportunity to socialize and share different cultures. They gather to watch a movie, play games, or celebrate special occasions.
Training and preparation
In addition to technical training, astronauts prepare mentally for space. They learn self-reflection, conflict resolution and accountability, and build team cohesion and trust. Understanding themselves, their individual roles, and the team dynamics are crucial to maintain a healthy living space.
Psychological and medical support
Canadian astronauts in space check in with a psychologist every two weeks and regularly speak to their flight surgeon. Care packages filled with sweets, little gifts and reminders of home sent on resupply missions also help boost morale.
Astronauts have access to devices with their favourite movies, shows, books, playlists, podcasts and audiobooks. Internet phones and virtual reality allow them to stay connected. Technologies like smart watches and shirts track vital signs and sleep patterns.
Keeping the spacecraft clean and organized, and following a schedule help create stability. Astronauts bring photos and items that remind them of home. Growing plants and vegetables also boosts morale and provides good nutrition and fresh oxygen.
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