Cabin Fever Symptoms and Coping Skills

Cabin Fever

Catherine Song / Verywell 

Cabin fever is a popular term for a relatively common reaction to being isolated or confined for an extended period of time. Cabin fever is not a specific diagnosis, but rather a constellation of symptoms that can occur under these circumstances.

There are times you might find it difficult to leave home, such as during times of illness or bad weather. While you might feel fine at first, extended periods of being confined to your home can eventually lead to feelings associated with cabin fever, such as anxiety, loneliness, and poor mood. Learning how to recognize these signs can help you look for ways to cope.

Symptoms

Not everyone experiencing cabin fever will have exactly the same symptoms, but many people report feeling intensely irritable or restless. Other commonly experienced effects are:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased motivation
  • Difficulty waking
  • Food cravings
  • Frequent napping
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of patience
  • Lethargy
  • Sadness or depression
  • Trouble concentrating

Note that these symptoms may also be indicative of a wide range of other disorders. If these symptoms are distressing or impact your functioning, a trained mental health professional could help you determine if you have a treatable disorder.

It is also important to note that your overall personality can play a role in how well you cope with some of these feelings. People with more introverted personalities, for example, might be better able to stay busy and entertained when they are cooped up at home. Those who are more extroverted, on the other hand, may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness to a greater degree.

Coping

If your symptoms are relatively mild, taking active steps to combat your feelings may be enough to help you feel better. If they are impacting you more significantly, they are best addressed with the assistance of a therapist or other mental health professional.

Get Out of the House

If you are able to go outside, even for a short time, take advantage of that opportunity. Research has found that spending time outside can be helpful for relieving stress, boosting mood, and improving overall feelings of well-being.

Exposure to daylight can help regulate the body's natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins, creating a natural high. Even a quick stroll can help you feel better quickly. If you are not able to leave the house at all, get close to a window and start moving around.

Create a Routine

When you're cooped up at home, not having a daily schedule or routine can worsen feelings of cabin fever. Research has shown that having regular routines can help people better cope with feelings of anxiety and stress. So when you start to feel symptoms of cabin fever, try creating a schedule that keeps you busy, socially connected, and healthy.

Maintain Normal Eating Patterns

For many of us, a day stuck at home is an excuse to overindulge in junk food. Others skip meals altogether. However, eating right can increase our energy levels and motivation. You may feel less hungry if you are getting less exercise, but monitor your eating habits to ensure that you maintain the proper balance of nutrition. Limit high-sugar, high-fat snacks and drink plenty of water.

Set Goals

When you are stuck in the house, you may be more likely to while away the time doing nothing of importance. Set daily and weekly goals, and track your progress toward completion. Make sure that your goals are reasonable, and reward yourself for meeting each milestone.

Use Your Brain

Although TV is a distraction, it is also relatively mindless. Work crossword puzzles, read books, or play board games. Stimulating your mind can help keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness. Look online for websites, games, and apps that help keep you engaged while challenging your mind.

Exercise

Even if you cannot leave the house, find a way to stay physically active while indoors. Regular physical activity can help burn off any extra energy you have from being cooped up indoors. Indoor exercise ideas include workout videos, bodyweight workouts, and online workout routines.

A Word From Verywell

When you can't get out of the house, cabin fever can have a serious impact on your mood and well-being. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help yourself feel better. Reading a book, playing board games, watching television, and talking to friends can help if you can't leave the house, but getting up and spending some time outside is often the best solution.

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Article Sources
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