Managing “Cabin Fever” and the Lack of “Control”
Okay, so you may not be in a cabin right now, but more likely than not you’re practicing some form of self-quarantine following the surge that COVID-19 has brought on.
As the days go on, you may find yourself feeling a little stir-crazy due to the perception of limitations. However, that’s exactly what it is, a perception.
Let’s break down what “Cabin Fever” really is. According to the Oxford Dictionary, cabin fever is, “irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.”
But let’s face it, John Snow, winter is not coming and you do not have to feel as if you are “stuck” in confinement.
The first element is managing the anxiety that is bringing forth this claustrophobic-type feeling, which may be dealing with the uncertainty of this life event. The best way to do that is by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Let me say that again….
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If we utilize our energy to try and figure out when this period of isolation is going to end, then we may slip into the cabin fever symptoms of restlessness and hopelessness even further.
However, if you practice getting comfortable with not knowing what the next day may bring, then you are allowing for the element of surrender to take over.
A few helpful tips to experience acceptance and surrender may be:
Use a meditation app
Meditation is scientifically proven to help reduce stress. In the time of working to keep our bodies healthy, managing stress levels will counteract the release of cortisol, which is an inflammation-promoting chemical called cytokines. So not only is it a great practice to aid in keeping your body healthy, but it will also help center and ground you.
Release the anxiety
When fear and anxiety come together, they can send our minds into a state of panic. While the threat of danger is not something to dismiss at this time, it’s important to not hold that anxiety in. Work to form a healthy relationship with it in that you are acknowledging the fear and inviting it to be seen and not ignored. Once you understand the alert that it is trying to bring you, the next step is to find a healthy way to release it. To some, that may look like journaling, and to others, it can be in the form of singing or dancing. Finding your own way of letting loose is half the fun!
Reframe this as an opportunity to do new things
While it is appropriate to grieve for the things that we’re not able to do, it is important to make room for the things we can do. Perhaps you haven’t sat down in a long time for a full breakfast meal in the exchange for your hot coffee-to-go to accommodate your busy schedule. Well, take this “slow down” period as an opportunity to make yourself that 5-course meal.
You may be in the house with loved ones, take the opportunity to spend some quality time with them. Getting creative to think of house projects can allow for bonding time and the ability to strengthen your relationship.
Be Kind to your Mind
Now is not the time to punish yourself for sleeping in late or eating that extra snack. While I encourage you to keep some sense of routine, it’s important to allow flexibility into your schedule to allow for these new thoughts and feelings to be seen. Having patience with yourself as you find this “new norm” and allowing for the ability to get adapted is the best way to get through this unforeseen time.
You can face this time of anxiety and discomfort by changing your relationship to change. Once you accept that change is an essential part of life, then the desire to control it won’t be as prevalent. Believe in your power to navigate through these challenges and allow the confidence to impact your reaction to the outcome.
Watch my segment about how to manage cabin fever on this episode of Soflo Health:
Be kind to the mind,
Dr. Claudia Caprio