As we Indians inch towards the end of the 21-day lockdown enforced by the government to combat the covid-19 pandemic, a lot of emotions are stirring up. Especially now since talks of the Centre extending the lockdown in the light of growing coronavirus cases are doing the rounds. But if you are feeling irritable and restless, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
These negative emotions that are stemming from you being cooped up in your home for the better part of a month are real. Also known as cabin fever, this is the reality of quarantine.
But, what is cabin fever?
Cabin fever is a distressing feeling of claustrophobia that people feel when in isolated confinement for a long period of time. In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, our restricted movements are very likely to give us all cabin fever.
How can you tell if you’re getting cabin fever yet?
While cabin fever isn’t a recognized psychological disorder, the symptoms attached to it are recognised as real by mental health professionals. Although not everyone suffering from it will experience the same symptoms but feeling intensely irritable or restless are common symptoms. Some of the other symptoms are:
So how can you cope with cabin fever?
Since cabin fever isn’t a ‘recognised’ disorder, there isn’t any set treatment. However, there are certain steps you can take to fight off this distress and irritability. Here are the different ways to keep yourself occupied to ward off cabin fever:
1. Establish a personal routine
While we all are in quarantine, the temporary absence of a 9 to 5 structure can make us pass time listlessly, disrupting our eating patterns, sleep and other activities. It’s time we stop treating quarantine as a frivolous vacation and stick to a routine we can customize according to our needs. After all, how many times do you get the opportunity to pick up a hobby, the second work ends?
It is essential to create a daily routine that consists of work or house projects, incorporates mealtimes, workout time, and even downtime. Make sure to give yourself a mental outline of the hours you will spend working towards something rather than just passing your time.
2. Ensure that you stay mentally and physically active
Self-isolation can tempt us into becoming couch-potatoes but that doesn’t make us feel better. Does it?
Watching television or binge-watching shows can be entertaining for some time. Yet, excessive exposure can hinder healthy mental stimulation. Due to the lack of movement, you are more likely to feel stuck. It’s time to work on crossword puzzles, read books, and play board games. By stimulating your mind you can reduce these feelings of isolation and helplessness.
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And you already know the many benefits of exercise and why it is important to keep working out from home during this time, so get moving!
3. Bring the outdoors inside
Taking a stroll or running outside is no longer an option. This can make you miss being around nature and the chatter of public places. The alternative? Take a stroll on your terrace or balcony and absorb the calming presence of nature. If that isn’t possible, open your windows to let the outdoor breeze in.
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Research shows that brief interactions with nature can help you improve mental cognition, support a positive mood, and overall well-being. You can bring back nature by adding a bird feeder outside your window to bring birds closer to your living space. With the extra idle time on your hands, you can also get back to gardening. Growing herbs or small plants on a windowsill, patio, or balcony can be extremely beneficial.
4. Create ‘me time’ activities
Now that you are cooped with family at ALL times, chances are that you will want a break every once in a while. So you must carve out specific time to do activities like painting, meditating, or dancing that can make you feel happier and more content.
Self-isolation although a necessity right now isn’t our normal state. We must recognize its importance yet constantly work towards getting what we need. If socializing is what you need then you can video call your friends or family. There is always a way to cope!