Quarantine Survival Guide: How To Beat The Cabin Fever

March 21, 2020

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Due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, many countries have imposed community quarantine. As we are practicing social distancing and our abilities to go to outside are restricted, many of us have felt the "cabin fever" in one way or the other. What exactly is cabin fever?

Cabin fever is not categorized as a Psychological disorder yet. However, its origins date back to the early 1800s when people were home bound due to the typhus fever. It is the unpleasant feeling experienced by a person in isolation for a period of time. It was recently described by Mr. Vaile Wright, who is a Psychologist and a Director of clinical research and quality at the American Psychological Association.

According to him, cabin fever: "involves a range of negative emotions and distress related to restricted movement: irritability, boredom, some hopelessness and even, behaviorally, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. Those would be the constellation of symptoms one might expect if they were feeling that way."

Many people can perceive being in a quarantine as being trapped in an isolation chamber created to protect us. Boredom, irritability, and hopelessness are some of the most common emotions you see on social media platforms these days. It is perfectly normal to be scared when faced with this serious pandemic that has taken many lives. Know that your feelings are valid.

Furthermore, your personality and temperament are significant factors that can affect how quickly you develop these kinds of emotions. If you are more extroverted in nature and are not used to being at home, you are more likely to be prone to cabin fever. 

Wrapped with these feelings of discomfort, how can an individual rise above the situation? What worked for me is the restructuring of my thoughts. I focused on what I can control, which are my thoughts and actions. My heart melts for the people who are employed by the "no work, no pay" system. Hence, I put my energy to good use by helping these people and by donating to causes that give back to the heroic healthcare workers. These frontliners put their lives on the line so we can safely rest in our own homes. They should be commended for their dedication and bravery. 

Secondly, since most companies are employing the "work from home" system, it is best to establish a routine. Do not treat this current situation as a vacation. Instead, follow a concrete schedule that dictates the flow of your day. For instance, I usually take the 7 am to 4 pm shift or the 8 am to 5 pm shift. I found that re-decorating my room and turning it to an office helped me to stay in the zone. 

Mixing up your living space can help you beat the boredom that comes with the cabin fever. Revamp your old furniture or DIY your home decorations every week. Invite your family members in these  artistic projects so you can make your home feel fresh every now and then. Use the resources which are readily available to you. 

Thirdly, I dedicate a portion of my time to go on a quick walk within our driveway. I do this to get some Vitamin D and to breathe fresh air. Social distancing does not mean that you have to completely isolate yourselves indoors. You can still walk in your driveway provided that you are following strict preventive measures. Please wear a mask when you are going outside of your house and sanitize as soon as you go inside. 

Fourthly, you must maintain communication with others. Staying connected through online platforms is important to survive this tough situation. Whether you want to send virtual texts and Tiktoks to your loved ones or join video conferences and online communities with your friends, connecting to others can help you manage your frustrations. Moreover, take it as an opportunity to show how much you care about a person. You do not what can happen tomorrow!

Lastly, it helps to embrace and accept the feelings of discomfort. I know it is easier said than done! Part of what makes the cabin fever challenging right now is that we do not know how long this pandemic will last. You can feel hopeless today and feel better tomorrow as you get to understand the situation better. There is a learning curve to dealing with the cabin fever. You need to accept that being in quarantine and practicing social distancing is the new norm in order to lengthen the lifespan of humanity. The sooner you can get to a place of acceptance, the sooner you will be able to find things that are in your control.

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Remember that what you are going through is temporary and will not last forever. Personally, I am so excited to go out once more and experience everything as if I am experiencing these for the first time.

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