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Mexican astronauts offer tips on handling confinement during pandemic

Fifty-one days after the Mexican Government issued stay at home orders, the Mexican Special Agency (AEM) shared a series of techniques and practical advice used during the training of two Mexican astronauts in order to help the population manage confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the country is undergoing phase 3 transmission, where the number of patients requiring hospitalization increases rapidly, and the capacity of health centers can become saturated.

In order to avoid this possibility, the health authorities asked the population to stay home and suspend non-essential activities, which meant a change in routines and habits in the lives of many people.

During their missions, astronauts experience some problems with isolation, which may be experienced by people in confinement due to the coronavirus. For this reason, the AEM offered a free virtual seminar led by the astronauts Tania Robles and Betel Valdés, where mental health tools are applied to face problems such as fatigue, irritability, depression, monotony, and friction with others that happen when people are living in small, closed spaces.

Both professionals accumulate experience and studies that allow them to share their mental health knowledge with the population to face life in space.

Betel Martínez Valdés is a graduate of the Faculty of Psychology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology at the National Institute of Public Health (INSP). In addition, she is a mentor in the AEM initiative “Women Towards Space”.

Tania Robles studied mechanical engineering at UNAM, she is co-founder of the Aerospace Association of the Faculty of Engineering, and regional coordinator for North, Central America and the Caribbean of the “Space Generation Advisory Council”.

1.- Knowledge of oneself. Take a few minutes apart from other people when you feel upset, connect with your breathing, and become aware of the importance of understanding them.

2.- Write, draw. Make internal dialogue with yourself.

3.- Eat together. The rituals are important, put small rules of the game to share quality time with those who are living in this isolation.

4.- Keep a good mood. Train your mind to find the positive in every situation.

5.- Be active and take breaks .

6.- Take care and respect your limits. Anger and fear, like any fire, can be more easily controlled when they start.

7.- Take care of your sleep habits. For many scientific reasons related to your brain, try to make your room dark when you sleep. Avoid exposing yourself to light from cell phones, tablets, computers, television, at least one hour before bed.

8.- Cultivate doing something you like. Isolation creates free time; you can use it to do something you like.

9.- Support others (Empathy in quarantine). Giving good cheer to others can give you good cheer.

10.- Create a calendar of activities for your day. If you are doing work from home or supporting your children with their distance classes, follow general schedules; This will help you structure your day, which is invaluable for mental stability.

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