How To Cure Cabin Fever During Coronavirus Isolation - Save Our Bones

The universal advice (and in many places, a government mandate) is that everyone should stay in their homes as much as possible to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

It's a simple action that has an important positive impact, but that doesn't mean it's easy! Spending long periods of time in isolation can have a very real impact on your mental and emotional state. There's even a name for it: cabin fever.

We'll take a look at what cabin fever is, and offer some strategies for combating its effects in the coming weeks.

What Is Cabin Fever?

“Cabin fever” isn't a disease at all. The colloquial expression refers to negative emotions and distress related to confinement and isolation, such as irritability, hopelessness, lack of focus, and even simple boredom.

The name is of uncertain origins but may date back to the early 1900s when it was used to describe the effects of spending the winter in an isolated cabin. Others point to a hundred years prior, suggesting that the term was used by those who were stuck at home with typhus fever.

Cabin fever isn't dangerous in and of itself, but your mental and emotional health does have a measurable impact on your physical wellbeing. For example, prolonged periods of exposure to the stress hormone cortisol hamper the bone remodeling process.1

Not everyone experiences cabin fever the same way — your personality, temperament, and experience all play a part. While some people are immediately gripped with anxiety, dread, or restlessness upon being isolated, others tend to direct their minds and emotions elsewhere.

But for most people, long periods of isolation can be a real challenge.

Synopsis

Cabin fever is a colloquial name for the feelings of restlessness, irritability, hopelessness, and boredom that can accompany isolation. The experience is different for everyone, and while cabin fever isn't an actual disease, prolonged stress can have real consequences for your health, including loss of bone quality.

Cures For Cabin Fever

If you're starting to go a little “stir crazy”, use some of these strategies to reduce your stress levels and regain your sense of control and composure.

1. Set A Routine

Make a schedule for yourself to follow each day and try to stick to it. Structuring your time will give you a sense of order and control.

2. Accept Discomfort

It's useful to acknowledge when things are difficult. Accepting that a situation is scary or uncertain validates those emotions, and makes it easier to move past them.

3. Stay Mentally Active

Solve a crossword puzzle. Play a game. Listen to a podcast. Find ways to keep your mind active during isolation.

4. Find Ways To Connect

Start a quarantine book club, or just set a daily time to video call your family and loved ones. Phone old friends you haven’t heard from in ages. They'll be happy to hear your voice.

5. Protect Your Alone Time

If you live with someone else, it's especially easy to get on each other's nerves when there is nowhere else to go. Set aside time for engaging in separate activities in separate rooms to give yourselves space.

6. Keep A Journal

If you are feeling locked in, you can escape into an empty page. Write a daily diary, keep track of dreams, or take the opportunity to chronicle fond memories.

7. Tune In

Listen to the radio or watch TV and follow world news. It's good to stay informed and remember that you're not going through this alone. But if you tend to obsess over stressful news and updates, set limits on when and how much you read or watch.

8. Eat Good Mood Food

Be sure your diet contains lots of vegetables and fruit and a little bit of chocolate. The food you eat impacts your mental health too. Make your favorite bone-healthy dishes, and savor the food you eat.

9. Make Up For Lost Sun

Take plenty of Vitamin D3 to make up for missing out on the sun's rays. It's important for both your bones and your mood.

10. Rearrange Your Closet

Sort out your clothes and separate all that doesn’t fit anymore to give to charity. And just because you're staying in doesn't mean you can't dress up — try on that outfit you love but haven't worn in a while.

11. Read A Good Book

Nothing is quite as transporting as immersing yourself in great novel. Escape into the pages for a little while each day.

12. Plan Your Summer Vacation

Having something to look forward to can help you make it through feelings of hopelessness. You can't travel now, but you can make plans for all the places you’d like to visit and the things you hope to do once the crisis has passed.

13. Movie Night

Stream movies and have a movie night. You can even coordinate movie-watching with friends, then have a group video call to talk about it the next day.

14. Keep Active

Exercise and get a workout routine going. Push yourself with new goals and new workouts. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, on top of its myriad overall and bonel health benefits.2

What This Means To You

Even if you're not feeling antsy, implementing the advice above can help you maintain good spirits (and healthy habits) through this period of isolation.

It's easy to feel alone when we're physically separated. Take a deep breath right now, and think about all of the people doing the same thing as you are and taking precautions to protect each other. Even though we're apart, we need each other to make it through this together.

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10487665

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21495519

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Julianna

    Try to cheer up your friends on line, make a most of these days, tell some jokes, or remind them the good old times together. My friend was telling me a good and funny advise: instead of your pajamas, put on a bathing suit at home to remind you not to eat too much. It was funny and I had a good laugh. I am a widow and the loneliness get to me sometimes but now even harder because no physical contact with anybody, but I try to make a most of it by reading, crosswords, coloring books. My children are a little far from me, but they help to get groceries. The whole world is in this together and kindness and helping each other, listening to healthcare professional and staying home will take us through these difficult times. These are my advise from a 76 years old. So keep up with Vivian’s advise and take care.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing your advice, Julianna. May I add that instead of putting on a bathing suit, you could put on your workout clothes. I do that first thing when I wake up, making it easier to exercise after breakfast 🙂

      Stay healthy and fit!

      • Julianna

        Thank you for your answer Vivian, sorry but I was cut off with everything but the exercise routines. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Edna LeBlanc

    You can imagine how seeing YOUR face on this site helped me. I don’t understand either. But knowing that you are ok did something wonderful for me. I have grown to feel very close to you, even tho I have never met you. Please let us know you are ok…often it helps us to know we are on the right course here. I am now almost 81 yrs of age, and I started with you in the VERY beginning. to educate myself, etc…STOPPED taking the medicines they were prescribing, as you suggested. My husband also of 64 yrs is almost 83 and he takes no Prescribed medicines…I take only one 90mg. of Armour Throid daily. Thank you for being there for us. Edna LeBlanc,

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re so sweet and caring, Edna! I’m glad both you and your husband are well. My three sons and I are also well. Lucy, my adorable (senior) tabby cat, keeps me company during this period of social isolation. I exercise every day with SaveTrainer and keep busy with work, cooking, and watching the news. The Save Institute team works remotely, and they’re all doing well. So don’t worry, we’re all here to lovingly support Savers during these challenging times.

      Thanks for being a part of the Saver community and stay healthy and positive!

  3. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Ita.

  4. Annabelle

    Sage advice. Thank you for sharing.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It’s my pleasure, Annabelle!

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