Spokane astronaut Anne McClain shares NASA’s tips on thriving in isolation

Spokane-raised NASA astronaut Anne McClain returns to Earth on Monday
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 56 backup crew member Anne McClain of NASA listens to a reporter’s question May 10 following her final Soyuz qualification May 10. McClain, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are the backups to the prime crew of Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, who will launch June 6 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. NASA/Elizabeth Weissinger

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane astronaut Anne McClain is no stranger to cabin fever, having served as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station. Now, she is sharing tips that have helped astronauts through more than 50 years of living in outer space.

For all the thousands of people now packed into their houses together, these tips could be invaluable to not just keep the peace, but keep everyone happy and healthy.

“NASA astronauts and psychologists have examined what human behaviors create a healthy culture for living and working remotely in small groups,” says NASA, adapting McClain’s tips from a Twitter thread.

These healthy traits are called ‘Expeditionary Behavior,’ or ‘good EB’ for short.

—Communication—

McClain defines this as ‘talking so you are clearly understood,’ active listening, questioning to understand and working to resolve conflict.

—Leadership/Followership—

McClain says this creates an environment of trust—leaders enhance a group’s ‘ability to execute its purpose,’ and followers, also called subordinate leaders, actively contribute to that direction.

This is done through accepting responsibility, assigning tasks and goals, leading by example and more.

—Self-Care—

Perhaps one of the most immediately important skills during isolation is self-care, which McClain says is ‘keeping track of how healthy you are on psychological and physical levels.’ She says this includes hygiene, sleep, time management and mood.

Good self-care EB means realistically assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, learning from your mistakes and to be open.

—Team Care—

Essentially, team care is self-care but magnified for the whole group.

It measures the health and cohesion of the team through psychological health, physical health and even logistical soundness. McClain says this can be influenced by stress, fatigue, sickness, resources and workload.

—Group Living—

This last behavior is defined by McClain as ‘how people cooperate and become a team to achieve a goal.’ It is different from team care in that it balances different opinions, cultures, skills and personalities.

“We are all astronauts on planet Earth together,” says McClain. “We’ll be successful in confinement if we are intentional about our actions and deliberate about caring for our teams.”

You can read NASA’s scientifically-proven tips here.