Some of you must have watched the movie “Cabin Fever.” The disease shown in this movie is an infection with a flesh-eating virus. This reel disease is similar to a real medical condition known as “necrotizing fasciitis,” which is a bacterial infection resulting in the death of the body tissues. The condition, also known as flesh-eating disease, is rare and can be life-threatening if not treated urgently.
Cabin fever, a commonly used term, is different from what has been shown in the movie by the same title. The word has been coined for a constellation of mental signs and symptoms caused by long periods of isolation.
Cabin fever is neither a classified mental disorder (in the official manual of psychiatry) nor any type of fever. For decades, it has been used to explain feeling bored, sad, or lonely because of being stuck at home for several days or months. This can be seen most commonly during winter months, natural disasters, lack of transportation, and pandemics such as the recent COVID-19.
How to know if you have cabin fever?
Cabin fever is generally a temporary feeling of negativity, irritability, or listlessness due to being confined to a place for long periods. Not everyone ends up getting cabin fever. The feelings arise because you are stuck at home, you cannot go out, and you cannot do your regular stuff. You cannot enjoy your social life either because of the cold weather or because of restrictions on social gatherings and meeting people.
You may also experience
- Difficulty waking up and sleeping or staying asleep.
- Decreased motivation.
- Frequent napping.
- Depressive feelings.
- Inability to maintain concentration.
Cabin fever is usually a temporary condition that goes away once you go out (after restrictions have been lifted) and resume your routine life. However, there are instances of cabin fever being diagnosed as mid-winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you think that the condition remains unimproved, reach out to a mental health professional. The symptoms may turn out to be due to some other medical or psychiatric disorder, and you must initiate appropriate treatment.
How to cope with cabin fever?
Most often, cabin fever just needs a few efforts from your end to get going. See the period of isolation as an opportunity to concentrate on your health and happiness. Take charge of your health in the following ways:
- Eat nutritious meals: What food you eat has an effect on your mental health. Keep a watch on your meals and snacks. Ensure that you stay hydrated; eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; and ditch the processed stuff.
- Exercise: Staying physically active lowers the levels of cortisol (stress hormones) and stimulates the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones).
- Take a good night’s sleep: Work on your bedroom to make the atmosphere soothing and sleep-promoting. Avoid frequent napping during the daytime and around evenings.
Apart from being healthy, it is also important to do things that actually give you joy. Jot down those things on a piece of paper and try them out.
We have enlisted below a few things that you can incorporate into your life in various combinations:
- Learn a new skill (learn cooking, develop creativity, and learn a new language)
- Pursue an old hobby (painting, singing, dancing, playing instruments, and gardening)
- Video chat with your distant family and friends
- Take up meditation
- Join an online yoga class
- Read and learn about nutrition and fitness from credible health websites
- Read a book
- Make plans for a picnic and social gatherings (imagine what you will do after you venture out)