Nick Yarris, who spent 22 years on death row in Pennsylvania for a murder he did not commit, has some advice to people who are now facing the anxiety of self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Create structure: Get up in the morning and plan your day,” Yarris told Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jessica Sanders in a newly posted video. “Create projects for yourself. You need to have a structured time because if you don’t you’re going to go through depression.”
Yarris, who was released from prison in 2004 after DNA testing cleared him of the 1981 rape and murder of Linda Craig, was one of the subjects of Sanders’ Sundance-winning 2005 documentary “After Innocence.”
A veteran of solitary confinement, Yarris had some other advice for people who are hunkered down at home during the pandemic. “There’s plenty of cleaning to do in your house,” he said, noting that he used a small washcloth to scrub down his prison cell while he taught himself yoga. “Get your s— together. Organize your closets. Write the book you’ve been putting off. Write to people. Do those things you’ve been slacking on first.”
Many people who are sheltering in place have an advantage over inmates, Yarris noted. “Social distancing might keep us apart, but if you have animals or children in your house please make physical contact with them.”
He also suggested that your attitude can ward off infection — starting with filtering the negativity out of your social media feeds. “As long as you are remaining polite and kind, your immune system is stronger,” he said. “This is why it’s so important right now not to be worried and stressed because stress weakens the immune system.”
Watch the full video above.