Like many of us during this difficult period, with COVID-19 engulfing every media platform and every thought, the overwhelming claustrophobia after almost two weeks inside is becoming unbearable. Many daytime TV shows are coming up with new inventive ways to stay entertained in the confinement of your own home – colouring, baking, learning a new skill? All of this sounds very exciting… doesn’t it? Or at least it would, if anyone had even a glimmer of motivation.
At this stage of the lockdown process in the UK, we still have at least another week stuck inside. However, with the peak of the pandemic still weeks ahead of us, it would be naïve to not realise this is going to be extended. Which led me to wonder, is the old myth of ‘Cabin Fever’ real?
According to Wikipedia “Cabin fever refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time.”
Sounds dangerous, right? Luckily it is not an actual disease and there is no prognosis, but related symptoms can lead people to making irrational decisions – stir-crazy perhaps.
My first knowledge of ‘Cabin Fever’ came from the infamous horror film The Shining. The monster of the film was in fact a normal man who falls victim to the boredom of isolation and turns completely psychotic. I don’t even want to talk about it, makes me shudder. A bit too close to home…
So, I will swiftly move on to how to avoid becoming a monster of any extreme. Even if that just means becoming a bit short-tempered with your family or leaving dirty pants on the floor (that surely counts as a monstrous activity).
It has been medically proved that social interaction can help relieve symptoms of ‘Cabin Fever’. Obviously, this is quite hard right now, but a chat to a friend on FaceTime may just provide that little bit of escapism you need. Research has also shown that nature is beneficial for cognitive function and positive mood. In this case it is vital you use your ability to go outside for exercise as much as you need. At the moment, you can go out once a day – go and stand out in an open space, listen to the birds and breathe in the fresh (less-polluted) air!
Exercise is also great for mental health, running or jogging allows you to be at one with your thoughts… even inside the house, exercise can help you relax. I’ve been taking part in online dance classes on Zoom and although very tiring, the adrenaline rush afterwards is just proof that it works!
If you want to try a little exercise, Joe Wicks is a YouTube sensation who is creating ‘PE lessons’ for the world. The easy videos are mood-boosting and help raise money for those working on the frontline. Every penny Joe receives is being donated to COVID-19 charities.
As we have seen in history, morale within the British public is ultimately the biggest power. As a nation we always find a way to pull together through adversity, and we can’t let this time be any different. So far, the nation has been incredible in their support and the roars of applause on Thursday evenings are a testament to our spirit…
We will make it through this and become stronger and more harmonious on the other side. Just as long as we don’t all go crazy and kill each other in Shining style before then… I’m joking of course (but not really, please don’t).