Sometimes it feels like we’ve been living in quarantine forever. But in truth, it hasn’t even been a month yet. To put things in perspective, we rounded up a few cases where people spent extremely long spans in isolation and managed to stay sane.
1) NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station. At 357.6 feet long, the space station is probably bigger than your house or apartment. But astronauts can’t step outside for a breath of fresh air.
2) CIA agent John T. Downey, was captured by China during the Korean War and spent more than 20 years as a prisoner of war. He was kept in solitary confinement much of that time. Most of us aren’t completely solitary, even if we live alone—we have email, Facebook, Skype and even the plain ol’ telephone to keep us connected with family and friends.
3) Italian interior designer Stefania Follini spent four months isolated 30 feet underground in a cave in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The cave allowed no indications of night or day. Follini volunteered for the experiment to measure circadian rhythms, the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. While getting up at the crack of dawn might not appeal to everyone, at least we have the option of seeing the sunrise.
4) Reid Stowe spent 1,152 consecutive days—that’s more than three years—aboard a 70-foot schooner named Anne. He completed the longest nonstop ocean voyage in recorded history. Most homes offer better protection against the elements than a ship. Plus, you won’t get seasick in your home.
5) French speleologist Michel Siffre spent so much time exploring caves on his own that he decided to just stay underground. Over an 11-year period he pulled more than a dozen solo stints that ranged from 63 days to more than six months. One of the big takeaways? “There was a very large perturbation in my sense of time,” he explained. “I psychologically experienced five real minutes as though they were two.”
Apparently time really does fly when you’re having . . . . fun?