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An Astronaut’s Tips For Living in Confined Spaces

An Astronaut’s Tips For Living in Confined Spaces

One thing astronauts have to be good at: living in confined spaces for long periods of time. 


Nearly 20 years successfully living on the International Space Station and more than 50 flying in space did not happen by accident. Our astronauts and psychologists have examined what human behaviors create a healthy culture for living and working remotely in small groups. They narrowed it to five general skills and defined the associated behaviors for each skill. 

For many of us in a similar scenario, here are the skills as shared by astronaut Anne McClain: 

Skill 1, Communication

  • Share information and feelings freely. 
  • Talk about your intentions before taking action. 
  • Discuss when your or others’ actions were not as expected. 
  • Take time to debrief after success or conflict. 
  • Admit when you are wrong.

Skill 2, Self-Care

  • Balance work, rest, and personal time. Be organized.
  • Realistically assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and their influence on the group.
  • Identify personal tendencies and their influence on your success or failure. Learn from mistakes. 
  • Be open about your weaknesses and feelings. 
  • Take action to mitigate your own stress or negativity (don’t pass it on to the group). 

Skill 3, Team Care

  • Demonstrate patience and respect. Encourage others. 
  • Monitor your team (or friends and family) for signs of stress or fatigue. 
  • Encourage participation in team (or virtual) activities. 
  • Volunteer for the unpleasant tasks. Offer and accept help. 
  • Share credit; take the blame.

Skill 4, Group Living

  • Cooperate rather than compete. 
  • Actively cultivate group culture (use each individual’s culture to build the whole). 
  • Respect roles, responsibilities and workload. 
  • Take accountability; give praise freely. Then work to ensure a positive team attitude. 
  • Keep calm in conflict.

Skill 5, Leadership/Followership

  • Accept responsibility.
  • Adjust your style to your environment.
  • Assign tasks and set goals.
  • Lead by example. Give direction, information, feedback, coaching and encouragement.
  • Talk when something isn’t right. Ask questions.

We are all in this together on this spaceship we call Earth! These five skills are just reminders to help cultivate good mental and physical health while we all adjust to being indoors. Take care of yourself and dive deeper into these skills HERE. 

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