Especially in the middle of a confusing, isolating phenomenon such as a global pandemic, persons thrown into new routines or kept away from their jobs are at risk for suffering from cabin fever. You no longer have to be stuck in the Arctic Circle watching the snow pile up to experience feelings of isolation, loneliness, or a sense of being left behind.
These are some of the symptoms of cabin fever that, just for the winter of 2020, are likely to grow to unprecedented levels. One could always get outside and meet with friends in the good, old days, meaning every winter through 2019. But everything looks a little different now that COVID-19 is circling the globe.
Cabin fever, as the name implies, is a term used to describe the feeling of being cooped up for so long that depression, inertia, restlessness, and feelings of isolation set in. If you are shut in too long, you become irritable, anxious, and stressed. An internal medicine doctor in San Diego is apt to see fewer cases of cabin fever than a doctor in regions where snow keeps peoples inside for days or weeks at a time. One of the most available, cheap, and useful techniques for fighting cabin fever is just to step outside. Even if the weather is a bit unfriendly, stepping outside and breathing in some fresh area can reduce your stress enormously. Better yet, go for a walk. Better yet, if you can, go for a jog.
And yes, cabin fever, the blahs, or the doldrums have similar remedies that can be very effective. These remedies are helpful whether you suffer from cabin fever or not. Here are a few:
- Go for a walk or a jog.
- Go ice skating.
- Try an activity you have never tried before.
- Work on a jig-saw puzzle. (The bigger, the better).
- Play board games. Short-play board games (checkers, Stratego, Jenga, backgammon, Sorry) are effective but try a long-play game like Monopoly, The Game of Life, Risk, or Trivial Pursuits) as well.
- Learn a new recipe
- Keep to a healthy routine that includes exercising daily
- Catch up on those activities you have let slide, such as putting photos into your scrap albums or cleaning out the garage.
- Read a good book.
- Write letters to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
- Find a place to do volunteer work.
- Sort through your possessions and donate those you don’t use to a local charity (such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or others).
These suggestions point to serious consequences of cabin fever even though it is considered a comic way to define the doldrums or periods of low energy and excitement. Cabin fever, in that sense, is both a light-hearted diagnosis with quick-to-find solutions, such as getting some more fresh air on a regular basis.
Internal medicine doctors in San Diego and elsewhere understand that these feelings can lead to depression, over-compensating with eating too much), weight gain, and reliance on addictive habits, including drinking alcohol, smoking, taking street drugs, watching television, or gaming on the computer.