Factually Obscure: The Martian

Is There Anybody Out There? Pandemic Life Lessons from The Martian

In anticipation of Project Hail Mary, the upcoming novel by Andy Weir, I recently re-watched The Martian, the 2015 film based on his book of the same name. As someone who’s on month 2798262 (or whatever) of quarantine, I couldn’t help but take some valuable lessons from the film on how to deal with isolation. With most of the country still facing restrictions or quarantines, here are some tips from The Martian to help you from going mad.


P.S. Don't forget to join us on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 7 PM ET for FAN EXPO & Indigo Present: Andy Weir, a free event where the author will discuss his new novel Project Hail Mary - an irresistible interstellar adventure.

Talk To Yourself

Mark Watney, the main character in The Martian who finds himself stranded on Mars, talks to himself a lot during his undesirable stay. Talking to yourself is said to have many benefits, like increased focus and motivation. In addition, a study from scientists at Bangor University in the UK concluded that talking out loud to yourself was an indication of a higher level of intelligence. I always knew that narrating my life was a smart thing to do. The next time my neighbor’s ask if I’m talking to myself, I’ll tell them, ‘Don’t mind me, it’s just my IQ.’

Practice Your Green Thumb

Upon calculating that his food supply wouldn’t last long, Watney comes up with a way to grow his own crops…on a planet where nothing can grow, no less. Of course, his advantage here was that he was, in fact, a Botanist. However, you don’t need to be a botany scientist to grow or take care of your own plants at home. Gardening, or even just having a couple of indoor plants, is said to lower levels of anxiety, spark creativity, increase attentiveness, productivity, and memory, and can help reduce stress and boost your mood. Excuse me while I go find something green to put in a pot…

Stay in Touch with Friends

This is probably the one I’ve been the worst at through the pandemic, as I find it easy to truly immerse myself in the hermit or stranded astronaut lifestyle. While I don’t need to send a message to ensure my safe return to Earth, keeping in touch with your loved ones is one of the most important things to do during the pandemic. Lucky for you, you don’t need to trek across Mars to find an abandoned robotic spacecraft and create a hexadecimal system (or understand what a hexadecimal system is) to communicate with others.

Dance To Disco

This is your sign to go put on your favourite song and dance your heart out! Dancing to upbeat music has many health benefits, both physical and mental, and can be an instant mood booster. If you join Watney in his disdain for disco music, it doesn’t have to be disco, but Watney does finally succumb and dance a little to ‘Hot Stuff’ when he’s in the Rover, and who can blame him. If you’re able to stay still while Donna Summer is playing then you, my friend, are some sort of superhuman.

Keep Yourself Occupied

Would Watney have survived if he hadn’t committed to working hard every day to reach his goal AKA survival? Find what drives you or what you love and spend your time doing that. These days it’s easy for our minds to drift to the negative or to spend hours doom scrolling, so instead focus on what brings you joy and occupy your time by doing that. Your overall sanity will thank you.  

Event Alert

If something that brings you joy is reading science-fiction, be sure to check out the deep space Q&A with Indigo & FAN EXPO Present Andy Weir! The bestselling author will be talking about his upcoming novel Project Hail Mary, on May 18, 7PM ET. The event is free to attend. Register now!