What is Cabin Fever?

“Cabin Fever” is the term used to describe the psychological symptoms that many people experience when they are confined to their homes for extended periods. With people around the world in extended lockdowns and quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cabin fever is probably more common and widespread than ever.

Common Symptoms

  1. Anxiety
  2. Boredom
  3. Decreased Motivation
  4. Depression
  5. Difficulty Waking Up
  6. Food Cravings
  7. Frequent Napping
  8. Hopelessness
  9. Impatience
  10. Irritability
  11. Lethargy
  12. Loneliness
  13. Restlessness
  14. Sadness
  15. Trouble Concentrating

Probable Causes

Human beings are social beings; on the whole, people tend to feel and function better when they connect.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are self-isolating and adapting to shelter-in-place restrictions. The shift from a socially active way of life to a more limited and isolated one can be enough to trigger cabin fever.

Some factors that can cause or contribute to cabin fever include:

  • feeling unable to connect physically with friends and family
  • being unable to partake in activities that the person finds enjoyable or meaningful
  • becoming burned out by work
  • feeling unmotivated and lethargic due to having too little or no work
  • becoming increasingly anxious about finances due to a lack of income

10 Ways to Cope Right Now

When symptoms are relatively mild, actively combating your feelings may be sufficient to provide relief. However, if those symptoms are having a more severe impact, you may need to address them with the assistance of a mental health professional.

1. Get Out of Your House

Be sure to get outside, even for a short time. Exposure to daylight helps to regulate your body’s natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins, creating a natural high. Sometimes, even a short stroll around the block can provide instant relief. If you need to remain inside, get close to a window and start moving around.

2. Regulate Your Eating

For many, being stuck inside the house becomes a license to binge on junk food. Others do just the opposite, they skip meals altogether. However, eating properly can raise both your energy level and motivation. While you may not feel as hungry if you are exercising less, you still need to monitor your nutritional requirements. And be sure to limit high-sugar, high-fat snacks and drink plenty of water.

3. Maintain Daily and Weekly Routines

You must follow your regular routines to the degree possible. Maintaining your routines gives you a sense of control which can help you to avoid succumbing to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

4. Strike a Healthy Work/Life Balance

It is quite common for people who are working out of their houses for the first time to find it challenging to strike a healthy work/life balance. On the one hand, productivity can help stave off boredom, while on the other, working too hard can lead to burnout. It is essential to set aside time for non-work activities that are relaxing and enjoyable.

5. Connect with Nature

Spending some time connecting with nature reduces stress and anxiety, and it can uplift one’s mood. Even if you don’t have access to a garden or trail, you can still find ways to appreciate nature. Some examples include:

  • taking care of houseplants
  • growing herbs
  • watching a sunrise or sunset from a window or balcony
  • listening for birds and other wild animals
  • playing with or relaxing with a pet

6. Get Enough Sleep

While the amount of sleep people need varies, whatever yours is, it is important not to cut back on it. You should aim to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and avoid anything but short power naps during the day.

7. Virtual Connections Are Also Helpful

The wonders of technology afford us many ways to connect virtually despite being socially distanced. Whether it’s a phone call, a Zoom meeting, or reaching out through social media, connecting with family and friends will help mitigate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

8. Keep Your News Consumption Under Control

While you certainly want to stay on top of what is going on, watching or listening to the news too frequently can trigger anxiety and sometimes even depression. Much of the news that is reported is “bad news,” so why would you want to continuously fill your heart and mind with negative stimulation?

9. Stay Focused on the Positive

If you can, try to feel and express your gratitude every day. Many who have kept gratitude journals have reported that it was a game-changer. Some examples of these things may include:

  • spending more time with family
  • having more time to be creative
  • the opportunity to learn a new hobby or finish an existing project

10. Easy Does It

For most of us, it takes time to adapt to a new mode of living. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you feel that you are not coping as well as you believe that you could. On the contrary, relax and focus on what you have managed to do successfully.