Examining stress and coping in prolonged isolation
Isolation can lead to multiple negative health outcomes, especially when paired with unpredictable stress. Yet, some individuals thrive when exposed to such contexts. Clarifying the mechanisms that explain such varied responses is important for our understanding of stress and coping, especially in environments in which isolation it is unavoidable, such as space travel or exploration. However, large scale research on isolation in naturalistic environments is limited. Our aim is to test the feasibility of collecting multi-domain data (e.g., hormones, sleep, emotions) in one such environment: recreational small vessels doing ocean crossings. Hundreds of families and individuals cross the world’s oceans every year in small sailboats. During these trips, they are isolated for weeks and experience unpredictable stressors. Reactions to such experiences vary, from “life-changing” to “traumatic” making them a perfect environment to examine isolation.