What is cabin fever?
For those of us working from home, on furlough or self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, our home’s four walls have become both haven and personal prison all at once.
Not that we want to be dramatic, but though staying home is the right and preferable thing to do for everyone currently, it doesn’t mean that it is always easy.
With many of us being under strict instructions not to leave the house, with the exception of going shopping for essentials, key work, or sometimes daily exercise, many of us may be starting to experience cabin fever.
Cabin fever is a popular term for a common reaction to being isolated in a single place for an extended period.
While it isn’t considered a psychological disorder, it is a common phrase associated with feelings of claustrophobia from staying in one place.
Symptoms of cabin fever can include lethargy, frustration, impatience, anger, irritability, fear, decreased motivation, sleep disruption and food cravings to alleviate boredom.
It isn’t just boredom that creates a feeling of cabin fever however, but rather the feeling of powerlessness.
Humans need three things in order to really thrive; to feel in control, feel connected and feel productive.
Most, if not all of these requirements are being impeded by the current state of quarantine, leading to the mass feelings of impotence.
But while we don’t have control over the circumstances, we do have control over what we can do about them.
How to combat cabin fever in lockdown
Thankfully, there are still plenty of ways in which we can combat our cabin fever, through healthy ways to regain those feelings of control, connectivity and productivity.
Here are a few of our ideas:
- Make your own entertainment by designing a quiz to have with your friends or family online while you eat dinner.
- Start a virtual book club with regular meetings; it gives you the drive to read and complete the book, knowing you are going to be talking about it later with others.
- Look into a new hobby that can be taught online like origami, card magic or baking. There are plenty of resources available to you.
- Don’t just rely on the TV for entertainment, try to engage your brain by reading, or listening to an audiobook or podcast.
- Rearrange your furniture to give you a change of scenery or create more space to work or workout.
- Exercise inside where you can; yoga, fitness bursts, dancing etc.
- Learn a language.
- Play a video game; our internal recommendation is Stardew Valley. A simple, but incredibly calming game about farming that allows you to build connections with characters and feel productive as you progress through the story. And it’s available across mobile, tablet, PC and console, to cater to every type of gamer.
The aim of all this is not just to vary the solution to cabin fever but to vary the solution to your emotions too. Every day will present different challenges and may require a different solution to the day before; for example, meditation might help one day, and connecting with family via video chat might work better for you on another.
It is all about trying to stay healthy in body and mind, so be aware of your mood, emotions and physical health and keep finding different ways to keep them on track.
What things are you doing to help you avoid cabin fever? Have you discovered anything new that has really helped you?