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Miners and Mental Health

On August 5, 2010, 33 Chilean miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground after a rockslide cut off their exit from the copper and gold mine at Copiapo. Drillers could take three to four months to reach the underground chamber.

At the forefront of everyone’s mind is how people can survive so long underground without the benefit of natural light, the comfort of their family, and the variety of stimuli we all take for granted. Imagine: it’s dark, it’s crowded, they’re isolated, and there’s a lack of sanitation. How do you think you would do under the circumstances?

Of course, some of you may think you’re in nearly that difficult a situation. You’re trapped in the darkness of depression, crowded with extreme emotions, and isolated from friends and family. Your living conditions are strewn with the refuse of crushed dreams and horrific mistakes. You may require some of the same things the miners needed.

Proper Nutrition

Fortunately for the miners, they’ve been able to get ample nourishment. A team of experts from NASA has compiled a menu. The miners have the menu regularly lowered to them. It includes meatballs, chicken and rice, cheese sandwiches with kiwis, and pears for dessert. But they won’t be getting any cigarettes or alcohol.

If you’re feeling trapped in darkness, your poor diet may contribute. Take an inventory. Throw out the bad and increase the good.

Appropriate Stimulation

According to Jason Kring, assistant professor at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s essential to stimulate the miners with external communications. It’s important to add variety to the miners’ days.

“The key part is to have a lot of surprises built in their day, so each day doesn’t take on a monotonous schedule of waking up, doing nothing, eating, and going to sleep,” Kring says. “That boredom and monotony—that’s the worst part of being in an isolated environment.”

They were getting telephone calls from family members, and recording video messages to the world added variety to their day. The miners also received MP3 players with happy music, small speakers, playing cards, and religious figures.

If your days stretch into a long line of sameness, think about changing things. Put on uplifting music, play some games, and make that call instead of waiting for someone to reach out to you. It will make a difference in someone else’s life and improve your own.

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Dee Litten Whited writes from Virginia.

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About Dee Litten Whited

Dee Litten Whited

Dee Litten Whited

writes from Virginia.

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