Do you feel like you’re getting cabin fever now you’re having to spend more time indoors? Slowly going stir-crazy whilst trying to work from home? This is completely normal and understandable, I’m here to explain WHY we feel this way and what we can do to combat it. The good news is, there has been a lots of research regarding self-isolation from things such as space missions which gives us lots of tips on how to adapt and combat cabin fever during this unprecedented time.
What is ‘Cabin Fever’?
Cabin Fever is a very common reaction to being stuck inside for a period of time and feeling isolated. Though it is not an official diagnosis, it’s been suggested that some of the common effects are common with other mental illnesses (though it’s worth nothing, not everyone who experiences Cabin Fever will have any/all of these)
- Food cravings
- Lack of patience
- Trouble Concentrating/Restlessness
- Decreased Motivation
- Lethargy/Difficulty Waking
What causes so-called Cabin Fever?
So Cabin Fever can occur because of two things – pure boredom and lack of socialisation.
Research shows that being social has both a short term and long term effect on our physical and mental health – the more social we are, the better our health is! So, this also explains why if we don’t have have as much social activity as we do usually we might start to feel a bit out of sorts.
Boredom can also be blamed for causing Cabin Fever. It’s suggested that boredom usually occurs with a lack of challenge or stimulation from what we are doing or our environment. Research has shown that being bored can incur both extreme frustration and feelings of depression.
What can we do to combat Cabin Fever?
So, socialisation is very key to helping combat cabin fever. Even though you might be at home with family, your partner or friends, it’s still incredibly important to socialise with people outside of your household. Though we obviously can’t do this face-to-face, both video chat and phone calls followed closely behind in-person socialising in this study. Another study also found that using phone calls and texting created a high quality of communication (compared to communicating through facebook/twitter etc.)
So – making sure we check in with friends and family video video chat, phone calls and even just a quick text is SO important (for ourselves and for them!) But here are some ideas of virtual things you can do with people you aren’t with –
- A Virtual Pub Quiz on Zoom (I’ve also seen people doing virtual brunches and tea parties – I’ll take any excuse for cake & prosecco!)
- Use the App ‘Lets Day In’ (formerly Let’s Day Out) is launching loads of virtual events such as live comedy, cooking classes, book clubs and art classes which are all FREE (with a £1 donation to the WHO Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund).
- Virtual Wine Tasting! Pull The Cork are doing weekly virtual wine tasting, you simply buy the ‘Isolation Case’ for that week and then join their instagram live to discuss the wines on a Friday. (A similar idea here for Gin or a weekly live Gin and Music Festival here)
- If you’re trying to drink less – there are virtual insagram cocktail classes that use low or no alcohol every Friday at 5pm.
I’m bored in the house, and I’m in the house bored..
To combat the ‘feeling bored’ section of Cabin Fever, we need to challenge ourselves and our brains! It was found that boredom makes us feel restless and unchallenged – so here are some ways we can really challenge our brain!
- This website has hundreds of quizzes you can do yourself to keep your brain challenged (or questions you can borrow for a family quiz night)
- Are you a Harry Potter fan? Try this website where you can take part in Hogwarts courses such as Defence Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration where you can earn house points – and can even take real graded assignments!
- Enroll in real online courses here, which cover everything from Food Science to Screenwriting – all from top universities, ranging from different lengths and mostly free!
Something to Remember
Just a last note to say, these things will help, however, do not push yourself. If you’re feeling particularly worn out or unmotivated, don’t push it. There is nothing wrong with not doing any of the above and just nap and watch TikToks (I’m definitely sometimes guilty of that one!), but there is also nothing wrong with completing 7 online courses and hosting 3 quizzes a week. It’s important to listen to yourself and not feel pressured into doing 101 things because we finally have ‘time’. These are very strange and unprecedented events, look after yourself.
If you’re worried about your mental health during this time – the samaritans have a great page here & are around as normal to call on 116 123 or via email at email@example.com
Feeling like negative news is overwhelming or enjoyed this research based article? Read my other articles in The Psychology Series