Coping with Cabin Fever

Human beings are by nature social animals. We generally thrive on togetherness, on being part of a group, and dislike our own company for long stretches of time. For others, it’s not so much the company but the excitement that comes with meeting new people and embracing new perspectives. When we are cut off from society due to a natural disaster or ordered to stay home as a result of a pandemic, our social activities screech to a stop and loneliness and frustration set in. These emotions and other unpleasant feelings that arise due to prolonged confinement to a particular place are signs of cabin fever.

Thanks to the recent global pandemic, cabin fever has become a widespread phenomenon. However, it’s not officially recognized as a mental illness or disorder. While some mental health experts believe it to be a psychological malady, others claim it’s simply a manifestation of anxiety disorders. Despite these dissenting opinions, a universal truth remains; cabin fever is real and currently affecting a large number of people.

Symptoms of Cabin Fever

If you are suffering from cabin fever, you might find yourself:

  1. Easily irritated
  2. Impatient
  3. Restless
  4. Distracted and unable to concentrate
  5. Sad or depressed
  6. Distrustful
  7. Unmotivated
  8. Lethargic
  9. Oversleeping or not sleeping enough

It is important to remember that most of these are also symptoms of other mental and physical disorders. So, exhibiting just one of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from cabin fever. However, if you do experience several of them simultaneously, then the existence of cabin fever is much more likely.

Tips for Coping with Cabin Fever

Have a routine

Nothing is set in stone anymore. The COVID-19 pandemic and all its attendant consequences have upended our habits and work routines and most of us are left floundering. To combat cabin fever and the erratic days ahead, you need to set up a structure; a routine that loosely resembles your life before the pandemic came and changed everything. Go to bed and wake up at the usual time. Avoid the temptation to sleep late or switch off the alarm. Plan your mealtimes; when and what you’ll be having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Allocate time slots for your usual activities as well; exercise, relaxation, and tasks to accomplish each day.

Don’t be monotonous

This is one trap many of us fall into, especially when trying to follow tip number one above. Sticking to a routine means you start doing the same things over and over again every day, and soon you’re spiraling into boredom. It could also mean you become too focused on achieving your daily goals and forget to have a bit of fun.

Why not enjoy yourself every now and then? Jazz up that routine a bit. If today’s goal was to finish a book, then schedule a thorough spring-cleaning session tomorrow and spend the day after that unlocking the next level of your favorite video game. Don’t leave room for boredom and dissatisfaction to creep in.

Connect with nature as much as you can

The best way to do this is to take a long, leisurely walk down the street or jog around the park and breathe in the scents of nature. But if you’re house-bound, never fear. Open your windows and stay as close to them as possible. You’ve got a balcony or a porch? Even better. Feel the sun on your face and take the time to enjoy the natural breeze wafting around your body. And if you have green fingers, go a step further and plant some herbs and flowers on your windowsill or place a couple of potted plants around your porch. The burst of colors might just be what you need to chase those blues away.

Keep your body fit

Don’t be a couch potato. Exercise and keep fit. Burn off all that energy accrued from being cooped up inside. Check for new workout routines online and switch up your regimen. You must also eat right. This is not the time to over-indulge on junk foods and become bloated. You will not feel good.

Be socially active

Give that social animal in you free rein. There are dozens of messaging platforms where you can video chat with your friends and loved ones. Join group chats of like-minded individuals and discuss your mutual interests. Miss the cinemas? Binge on Netflix with your family members. But remember, moderation is key.

Grow your mind

While having fun, it’s important to build your mind as well. Learn a new skill or language, explore your creativity, and even research on ways to start an online business. Many of you will be unable to take on new projects right now, while navigating things such as working from home, parenting and/or home-schooling. Instead, maybe it’s something like 10 min of sodoku, a cross-word puzzle, or listening to a new podcast while out on walks.

Have some ‘me’ time

If you’re a parent, being stuck at home with your kids 24/7 gets tiring and frustrating pretty fast. While doing things together with your spouse and kids is a great way to reaffirm the bonds of love and family, you must learn to find time for yourself. Disconnect from it all and unwind. Plug in those earphones, meditate, and have a couple of hours to yourself where you are neither parent nor spouse. You’re you, simply enjoying the moment.

To curb this pandemic, staying at home is a must and cabin fever a necessary evil. Put all these coping skills into practice. It won’t stop the cabin fever, but it will make it a lot more tolerable.

Contact New Connections Counseling Center for help.

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