A variety of situations may give cause for us to stay home and indoors, not just the spring season with allergies and unpredictable weather, but throughout the year with illness, weather extremes, significant injuries, etc. While having time at home to get things done is beneficial, sometimes even therapeutic, too much time spent unintentionally can lead to something called “cabin fever” – a constellation of symptoms that occurs during seclusion and isolation, whether self-imposed or not. You may experience the following: changes in sleep pattern, decreased motivation, difficulty walking, food cravings, frequent napping, hopelessness, lack of patience, lethargy, sadness or depression, trouble concentrating, etc. None of those sounds fun, so let’s look at strategies to help prevent and address cabin fever.
It is extremely important to note, however, that even though a certified wellness coach through Balanced Wellness can devise a plan to work through these symptoms with you, if any combination of these symptoms is distressing and significantly impacting your daily functions you should potentially seek help from a mental health trained professional. Consider the severity of your symptoms, look at the suggestions we make below, and decide which path is the safest for you to take. Self help and/or medical treatment is OKAY!
What action steps can you take to combat cabin fever? Breathing fresh air, including more physical activity in your day, and spending time with people you care about can help get your mind out of a cabin fever funk. An easy way to do all the above? Look at your step count or the amount of time you spend outside being active!
Step 1: Get Out of the House
Go outside if you are able, even for a short period of time. Research shows that even just a few minutes outdoors, especially in the sunshine and/or barefoot, can help alleviate stress, boost mood, and improve overall feelings of well-being. Vitamin D which can support immune function and recovery, so why not take advantage of this natural booster during peak allergy season?
Step 2: Create Routine!
Add a 10 minute walk outside either before you go to work or as soon as you get home from work. Add this walk to your schedule 2-3 times a week and you’ve got yourself a routine and an increase in walking steps! Schedules, such as this regular walking routine, can help you better cope with feelings of anxiety or stress AND benefit your physical health.
Step 3: Set Goals
Just because you are stuck in the house more often doesn’t mean you can’t set valuable goals for yourself. A simple goal would be to increase your steps by 2,000. Do this for a month and then add 2,000 more. Or, if you don’t have a step tracker, start with a 10 minute walk 1x per day, 3x per week. Do this for a month and then increase your walk time by 10 minutes or increase the number of days per week you walk. Practicing healthier habits doesn’t have to be complicated or hard, keep SMART goals in mind!
Step 4: Share Movement with Company!
A family member or friend may not be able to conveniently come over for a pre- or post-work walk, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t schedule a time to be active together in the mornings, evenings, or on the weekends at a park! Sharing active time together will not only boost your physical and emotional health, but also theirs.
Even if you cannot leave the house, there are plenty of methods to keep you physically active. Online exercise videos and at-home equipment make continuing an exercise routine from home simple these days. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Have a dance party, use the restroom on the other end of the house, complete 30 seconds of jumping jacks before going into the kitchen for a snack… Get creative, have fun, and just move more! And don’t forget to share your success with others. Not only do we want to become healthier ourselves, but we want to lift up those around us and improve their well-being too!