ESA signature
Luca Parmitano

Operation Aikidō

Adrianos Golemis is an ESA flight surgeon based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. He spent nine months in isolation at Concordia research station and three weeks in quarantine with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. He is currently working at a hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece. In this second post of a two-part blog series he helps you use isolation to your advantage.

I have never really practised 合気道 (Aikidō), but I am fascinated with its principle: to use the momentum of your aggressor’s attack and reverse it in order to counter their blow and disarm them. Make what was meant to hurt you, assist you.

In this second blog post written from my current station in Thessaloniki, Greece, I believe we can employ this principle to tackle our time at home.
It’s natural that after a few days locked in, we begin wondering what to do inside, at home, 24 hours a day. You’ve likely worked, cleaned out the cupboards, studied your homework or assisted your children. You’ve watched five movies and you’ve cooked.

Being stuck in a house with the same people is starting to feel annoying – even if they are the people you love and care about most. Small issues begin escalate and you have had enough.

This is the perfect time for Operation Aikidō as you reverse this instinct of uneasiness and see it for what it can be: a chance.

Turn the tables on isolation

Think of it like this: you never asked for tickets to a museum, but you just won a free tour. Wouldn’t it be worth a good, proper try? Couldn’t it even be a chance to learn? To discover more about yourself? A chance you would not normally get?

Being home can deprive you of many options, but it can also offer you the time you always needed, but never could afford. For the common good, and for our own good, let’s cherish it and encourage others to do so too.

The simple beauty of a sunset in Antarctica. ESA-A.Golemis.

Maximise your time

Firstly, it’s important to have a routine. Wake up, dress up, drink your tea, work, then enjoy. Eat at the usual time and keep yourself in a rhythm. We’re about to seize the opportunity to turn circumstance to success.

1. Tackle your to-do list

If you’re a scientist, here’s your opportunity to write that paper you always postponed. If you’re a pupil, you now have time to start learning a new foreign language. You can study a new strategy for chess. If you are a musician, write a song; if you are an artist, experiment with painting. Be creative!

2. Expand your mind

Don’t read about COVID-19 all day long. Stay informed, but focus on other paths of the mind as well.

People are already generating interesting, free, shared content to pick your mind and broaden your horizons. Take a look at this astrobiology addendum, stemming from the current global situation. In the first video, Professor Cockell explains that he starts this series to help people learn while trapped at home.

3. Try something new

Take a chance to call an old friend. Prepare a postcard to send once you get out of your home again. And what about exercise? True, you can’t run outside and the gyms are closed… But maybe this is your chance to start doing simple, invigorating yoga at home? Here‘s a great, free set of videos to try!

4. Lend a hand

This is also a time for solidarity. What better way to reverse the blues of staying inside than by contributing to a greater cause and helping out? Did you know you can actually take part in the research against coronavirus via citizen science projects? You can also join Folding@home if you wish.

5. Mix it up

Use the time at home rather than let it consume you and drain your optimism or ruin your mood. There are always ways to reverse the mishap and to utilise it somehow to your advantage.

This time at home can be chance to catch up, and a chance to venture forth. Just remember, every now and then, to diversify what you do. It’s good for your mood, your long-term development, and helps relieve pressure on streaming resources.

Aikidō is the way to go. I hope I have convinced you. Play with your children or teach them a new thing. Take time to listen to your grandparents’ stories from years past (over the phone of course). Listen to new music. Plan your future home or new business model. Here’s your chance.



Interested in more quarantine tips from Adrianos? Read the first blog post in this two-part series here.