How To Cope With Lockdown Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever and Its Symptoms

Cabin fever is not a real diagnosis; however, a lot of us are becoming more and more tired of staying at home. As social creatures, the lack of social connection caused by what it feels like being a never-ending isolation is contributing to this feeling of irritability and restlessness. This is also worsened by loss of sense of time (what year is it again?), lack of routine, and the loss of we would refer to as "our normality".

To put it scientifically, our ventral vagal nerve (social connection system), is not triggered as frequently as in "normal" social situations. When this system stops being active, we feel extremely low. This means that it's completely normal that you feel a bit down in the dumps because of lockdown.

How To Tackle Cabin Fever

Get Out Of The House

No matter how many times you've heard someone saying or read it in articles, you should really put some comfy shoes on and go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is helpful in processing what you've been feeling during that day, which is always better than just leaving your emotions inside our bodies; it makes us feel better.

Even better if you're a runner. Running helps lift your mood, sleep better, and has positive effects on your depression. We understand that running is not for everyone, so don't feel like you have to push yourself to become one!

Active Your Social Connection System

Activate you ventral vagal nerve and lift up your moods! Trying doing so by:

  • Singing or breathing (breathe in for 4, breathe out for more)
  • Laughing: try looking for some funny videos online, or comedy television show (e.g., "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", it's old, but it does the job)
  • Keeping in touch with loved ones through regularly planned videocalls
  • Stretching your arm above your head with your hands clasped together, and releasing; this helps stretch your entire torso.

Go For A Socially Distanced Walk With A Friend

We really need social connections in times like these. Our mind might tell us that it's not worth the effort, but our social connection system will thank us for spending some time with someone we love. You need social connection even if you're introverted, perhaps on a small level, but this will help you feel better.

Find A Purpose

Find a sense of purpose. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, do it anyway. Perhaps this purpose is doing something nice for someone else; such as, offering to do the shopping for someone that lives in your neighbourhood. It might involve stepping out of your comfort zone and your "cabin fever" to help someone; this can have benefits for us too.

Plan Your Day

Plan your days; this will help give you a sense of structure and normality. For example, 8.45am have a cup of tea before starting work - 1pm make a sandwich - 5pm watch tv after work.

Keep Moving And Mindful

Keep your body moving can be wholesome; this can range from, dancing, working out, to going for a walk at lunch time. Whatever works for you.

Meditating can be beneficial too. If you're new to meditation, you can try free apps such as Medito, Insight Timer, MyLife Meditation. They will help you become more mindful of the way you think; you will learn how to recognise when negative thoughts are approaching, and how to let them pass without judgement.

Regular meditation teaches the amygdala, our threat detector, not to react so quickly or so often.

Check In With Yourself Once In A While

Finally, and most importantly, spend some time every morning trying to understand what your mind and body need. It might be different each day.

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