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5 tips NASA astronauts use when living in 'confinement' in space to stay happy and productive

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson, left, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, center, and Fight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA, are seen inside the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft shortly after in landed near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017 (Kazakh time). (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
Bill Ingalls/NASA

If working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has you feeling cabin fever, isolation or boredom, NASA has some advice.

On Sunday, NASA astronaut Anne McClain shared a Twitter thread of expert skills that astronauts implement when working and living in confinement to ensure that they stay happy, productive and successful. The tips are often referred to as "expeditionary behaviors," or "EB," and they can be applied to any situation that involves working remotely as a group, according to a blog on NASA's website.

These NASA strategies were developed by retired astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent a total of 665 days in space over three separate missions, and Al Holland, a NASA psychologist who studies the psychological impact of long-duration spaceflights.

While you may not be on a mission to space, these NASA-backed behaviors could prove useful while you're working from home during the pandemic.

"COVID-19 gives us a higher purpose much like being in space does because we are saving lives by quarantining so it is important to understand that bigger purpose and embrace that purpose," Whitson told "CBS This Morning" on Monday.

These are the five skills to keep in mind.

Communication

Effective communication is about more than just frequent Slack check-ins; you also have to "share information and feelings freely," according to the NASA blog. That includes talking things through and admitting when there's a misstep, as well as debriefing when something goes right. Good communicators are also effective listeners, which often means re-stating someone's message to ensure they're heard.

Leadership (and 'followership')

Trust and responsibility are the hallmarks of good leadership and followership, according to NASA. Those in leadership positions should "lead by example," and provide resources, solutions, tasks and goals.

And team members can "actively contribute" to the leader's plan too. For example, if you notice a kink in your telecommuting setup, you might suggest a solution to your manager instead of just pointing out the problems.

Self-care

NASA's definition of self-care is demonstrating your ability to be proactive and stay healthy. Are you getting enough sleep, practicing good hygiene and spending time on non-work activities that make you happy? Consider how your own habits are influencing your mood and stress levels, and how the rest of your team might be affected.

Team care

Remember that we're all in this together. The best way to support your team is to be patient and respectful, according to NASA. Foster good relationships with your coworkers during this time and encourage team-building activities such as virtual "happy hour." Offering to help others, especially on tasks that you know are a pain, can go a long way.

Group living

The final expeditionary behavior is all about building a "group culture," by taking into account everyone's "different opinions, cultures, perceptions, skills and personalities," according to NASA. Rather than feeling competitive with your team members, strive to work together and stay positive. "Respect roles, responsibilities and workload," according to NASA.

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