We see a lot of movies about how great and cool an astronaut experience could be. There’s a considerable amusement of how humans can go around and orbit and then in the universe while wearing their most known white jumpsuit. As a kid, we are all fascinated about what life could be in outer space. We imagine becoming part of the technological adventure just right outside the planet. To sum up, all we can think about is the amazing life of astronauts. But what entirely do they do? What are the things they have to put up with to be selected? And once there, what are the habits they practice to keep their emotional and mental states stable?
It Is Not As Easy As What You Think
Space travel is not just about wanting to be part of an expedition and volunteering for the position. There is no chance a person would immediately get a spot right in the spacecraft. It requires a lot of things starting from the physical capabilities up to the psychological capacity. There are things that one must sacrifice to be able to set foot onto the rocket ship. Often, once chosen, there is no turning back. Trials and all sorts of testing are made to ensure that the deserving individuals are right on board.
Astronauts are required to master all sorts of physical problems that come along with space travel. They have to endure intense breathing exercises, whether they like it or not. That explains why part of their training includes focusing on holding their breath for longer periods. And since there is no assurance of human life once limited breathable air got lost, the astronauts need their lungs to be fully capable. Aside from that, astronauts are required to have correctable eyesight. It should be near the visual correctness of 20/20 in each eye. They have to have a blood pressure not exceeding 140/90. Then astronauts need to survive water training where they are required to pass swimming tests during the first couple of months. Suppose you are wondering why water training is required. It is all because they have to carry a heavy suit that represents a different mass when worn in space. Of course, astronauts must qualify for the engineering skills required from a professional curriculum. These fields must at least contain professional knowledge in physical science, biological science, and mathematics. And for formal missions, they have to undergo military training as well. It is a training requirement that, unfortunately, lasts up to 2 years of completion. For what purpose? Well, it is solely for professional skills and decision-making purposes whenever the space task succeeds or fails.
Why Bother With Mental Health?
Being up in space does not have that much downtime. The tasks and experiments are continuous, so astronauts are more worried about making mistakes because they understand the massive effect of their potential screw-ups. But despite that, people only view their jobs as engaging, amazing, and one of a kind. People do not fully understand the amount of psychological and emotional strain astronauts have to deal with every day. There is too much stress up in space, too, especially to those alone in outer space for a long period. Astronauts’ mental health is always unstable because they require themselves to be always in full alert mode. But since they cannot complain about it, the only thing they can do is force themselves to maintain a balanced mind and body, the best way they could. But we all know that is impossible and a lot of hard work.
Astronauts often experience physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. In some unfortunate instances, despite their isolated situation, they still prefer to isolate themselves even more. Even if they are put in an environment with people, some of their peers tend to be unhealthy to be with. The entirely closed environment with many conflicting ideas and attitudes is hard to handle, especially when there is no room for personal space. And since there is not much growth happening inside the spacecraft, the risk of having thoughts of anxiety and depression is at stake. Unfortunately, for those heroes up in space, they can only deny and hide their true feelings. They are forced to lie to themselves that they are okay, even if they are not. They can’t trust their emotions, for they know it will affect their overall wellbeing.
At some point, most of the astronauts do not allow themselves to focus on any physical, emotional, and mental stress because they know it can lead to a massive human error, which is unacceptable in their job. So if you try to imagine how everything is with these people, then you can conclude that even the coolest job on Earth is not that cool after all.