Cabin fever anyone?

“If you’re going to have cabin fever, have a big cabin…”

Joe Cocker

Most of us have been in some kind of lockdown for well over a month now. Easter holidays have been and gone. And certainly, any novelty of our new way of life has worn off. We are social animals, (yes even us introverts), and so to be in this state of isolation for this long isn’t natural. Whether you’re on your own or with people, it wouldn’t be surprising if we were all suffering with a bit of cabin fever. 

Cabin fever is used to describe feeling bored or listless due to being stuck inside for a prolonged period of time. The possible symptoms are pretty varied and include feeling restless, lethargic, sad, tired, distracted, impatient, demotivated, hopeless and stressed (to name but a few). Any of those sound a tad familiar? I can certainly vouch for a few myself. So, what can we do, given our limited circumstances, when it feels like the walls of our own little cabins are closing in?

The key is to control what we can. We can’t control Covid-19 itself, but we can control how we decide to respond (for example by being good citizens and social distancing). So, here are a few ideas to hopefully help alleviate lockdown fever!

  • Very importantly, don’t try to bottle up or ignore your feelings. There is a lot going on right now both in our inner and outer worlds. Repressing feelings only makes things worse. Ignored feelings will end up popping up when you least expect and coming out in all kinds of distorted ways. Instead turn the tables on your emotions and face them head on with an open curious mind. By acknowledging difficult feelings and giving them space, they can dissipate more readily, and we get the added bonus of getting to know ourselves that little bit better. 
  • Here in the UK, we are allowed outside for one form of exercise. So, if possible, try to get outside. Even just a quick stroll around the block can make a big difference to how we feel.  Research has demonstrated that even brief interactions with nature can promote improved cognitive functioning and support a positive mood. Going outside will stimulate the brain and body enough to eliminate feelings of intense claustrophobia, paranoia, and restlessness. 
  • If heading outside is not possible, then see if you can bring the outside inside. For example, sit by an open window so you can get some fresh air, feel that breeze on your face and maybe catch a bit of sun (British weather dependent of course).  Invest in some house plants and maybe some cut flowers. They’ll bring something natural into your home and make us feel more connected to the outside. You could also grow some herbs etc in a small window box. Nurturing something to grow can lift our mood, not to mention give some flavour to our cooking. 
  • Regardless of getting outside or not, don’t forget the impact even a little bit of exercise can have on our mood. Regular physical activity can help burn off any extra energy you have from being cooped up indoors. 
  • And if we’re going to be stuck indoors, we might as well take a good look at our interiors and see if some changes can be made. Have a bit of a clear out, especially of the rooms you are using most. By freeing up space, we can feel less cluttered internally too. Rearranging your furniture can create a new feel to the space and help improve our mood. Plus, don’t forget to consider lighting, changing bright central lights for soft lamps can make a lot of difference, and maybe add a few twinkle lights for a bit of fun. 
  • We’ve all been hearing this since lockdown, but adding some structure, routine and the odd goal or two can really help to make us feel a bit more in control and productive of our time. But don’t forget to allow for some downtime in your day, we all need that, especially right now.
  • Much fun as a Netflix binge is, it’s relatively mindless (sorry), so keep your mind whizzing with reading, crosswords, puzzles etc. Keeping our minds stimulated can help reduce feelings of boredom and restlessness and make time pass more quickly. 
  • While our immediate future might be uncertain, creating a vision board for ourselves might introduce some much-needed inspiration. Using pictures from magazines, the internet etc create a visual reminder of your dreams and the possibilities which lie ahead. And you never know you might be able to start on some of these ideas even during lockdown.

Whatever you’re experiencing as we enter another week of this strange new world, a little bit of humour can go a long way.  The comedian, Jimmy Fallon, recently started a hashtag #IKnewIHadCabinFeverWhen on Twitter and some of the responses made me chuckle. I hope they bring a little smile to you too.

  • So, I knew I had cabin fever…
    • “…when I arranged my daughters stuffed animals in order of who I would like to be friends with first.”
    • “…when I fired my dog for being a lazy co-worker, and then rehired him because I needed someone to chat to at the water cooler.”
    • “…when I finally read the terms and conditions.”
    • “…when my daughter started making hats for the cats. The cats are now plotting our demise.”

Keep smiling everyone. Stay safe and sound. 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

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