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Need Help Beating the Stuck at Home Blues

by Nov 2, 2020

Being at home is a source of joy for many of us, probably most of us. It’s our haven, our safe space. You know where everything is, where you keep the coffee and hide the biscuits, your favourite armchair, you comfy bed, right? But is all that familiarity starting to drive you nuts? Are you experiencing ‘Cabin Fever’?

If you are stuck at home right now, whether you are having to work from home or are just unable to go out due to the new lockdown restrictions, are you feeling more stressed than usual? Winter doesn’t help either. Many people suffer from Seasonally Adjusted Depression (SAD), brought on by shorter days and less sunshine, which added to being locked down just makes things even worse.

It is really important though, to keep in mind that the current situation is only temporary, we will be free again – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. In the meantime, it is vital that you look after your mental health. To help you do just that I have put together a few tips and ideas for staying positive and healthy in lockdown.

First of all, what is ‘Cabin Fever’, and how do we know we have it?

‘Cabin fever’ describes feelings that are brought on by being isolated in a space – you don’t have to be alone, just stuck in a space – over a long period of time. Typically, you won’t have interaction with many people, if any at all, you are unlikely to get much fresh air, you are likely to not be doing things that stimulate you. That lack of stimulation, connection and engagement can cause high levels of stress and anxiety.

It manifests itself in boredom, restlessness, too much negative self-introspection and a feeling of claustrophobia.

The expression comes from the USA 200 years or so ago, when pioneers moving across the country were forced to shelter through the long winter months in small makeshift cabins, often miles from any towns or other people. During those months they were unlikely to have contact with anyone else and so the term ‘Cabin Fever’ was born to describe the impact on them as a result of their isolation.

There are many mental health challenges that you might experience as a result of ‘Cabin Fever’, among them:

·      problems with sleeping

·      issues with concentration

·      eating too much

·      not getting enough exercise

·      tiredness during the day

·      no motivation

·      difficulty in coping with simple things

·      anger

·      arguments with loved ones, and

·      increased stress and anxiety

So, what can you do about it?

1. Get some fresh air and sunlight whenever you can

Go for a walk, take a bike ride or just sit out in your garden for a while. It is vital to get fresh air and sunshine at least once a day. The benefits of doing something as simple as walking or being outside will help you to feel better for the rest of the day.

Sitting in front of the TV all day, especially if you are continuously watching news updates, is not going to help you. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed to increase your stress and anxiety as there is very little good news on the TV right now.

2. Find things to do

One very effective way of staying positive is to remind yourself every day how blessed you are, how lucky you are, focus on all you have that is good. You can do that with a journal. It can be a bought journal, hard back, paperback, homemade or any old notebook. What matters is that you have some sort of book to record your thoughts every day.

3. Keep a journal

4.Take care of yourself, you will feel better for it

It is easy to get a bit sloppy when we don’t have to see anyone or go anywhere. Do you find yourself not bothering to get dressed some days, maybe not even bothering to wash? You think what does it matter, no-one is going to see me, why go to all that effort?

Not bothering with yourself is a sure-fire way to start slipping into depression. You are important and your self-care should be part of your daily routine even if you are the only person who will benefit from it. You matter.

You may have family and friends either living with you, nearby or at least near enough for you to call on them if you need help. Many people are not that fortunate and find themselves alone in isolation. Are there ways that you can help them out? Of course there are.

5.Help others whenever you can

6.Give yourself a task or project that will take you a while to complete

If you know someone who is alone, call them occasionally, check they are ok, have a conversation with them. Your voice may be the only one they hear that day other than from the TV or radio. It’s amazing how much better we feel when someone thinks of us and checks to see if we are ok is it not?

What about that creative project you’ve always wanted to start but never had time to do? Write that book, paint that picture, do that 3000-piece jigsaw. Re-decorate the house, build that extension. Now is the time.

Do you knit, crochet or sew? Could you make clothes and toys for children in hospital and neonatal units (check with your local hospital to see what they need and can accept). What about making toys and decorations ready for Christmas?

Listening to music can bring amazing benefits to your wellbeing, mentally and physically. Our brains release dopamine, a pleasure inducing neurotransmitter, when we listen to music we like. Its thought to reduce depression and improve both physical health and sleep quality.

7.Bring music back into your life

Just dancing around the kitchen to our favourite songs whilst we do chores is always much more fun that just silently working. Plus think of the exercise you’re getting. So, go on, have a boogie.

Dance like no one is watching

Go on, lose yourself in music, it’s really good for you.

8.Get into mindfulness

Mindfulness is about living in the moment with calmness and focus on only what you can see, hear and feel at any one time.

It has proven benefits in keeping stress and anxiety at bay. Engaging in mindfulness every day is a great way to help you relax and de-stress from the worries of the world.

Try this:

1.    Sit or lie comfortably, somewhere warm and preferably quiet and not to well lit.

2.    Close your eyes and take several slow deep breaths, in and out, and as you breathe relax your body, bit by bit, starting with your head and moving gradually all the way down to your toes.

3.    If thoughts come into your head, let them pass by, as if they were floating past on a river.

4.    Continue to focus on your breathing, nice and steady and relaxed.

5.    Think about your happy place, somewhere and sometime where you have memories that make you smile or concentrate on something you can look forward to.

6.    Hold that thought, let other thoughts pass you by.

7.    Concentrate quietly on these happy thoughts for a while, then when you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to now.

8.    Gently shake out and carry on with your day.

Practice this a few minutes each day and it will gradually become easier to disconnect from the world for a little while, and just breathe.

9.Think about giving yourself a goal to reach by the time we are out of lockdown again

You have at least 4 weeks to make some changes. Will your goal be to lose 4lbs or just eat healthier? Will you set a goal of walking for an hour at least three times a week, or move from walking to jogging?

Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or start exercising more? Maybe you want to do some research into making a change in your career. Many people have started to evaluate their lives during this pandemic and have decided to make positive changes.

Set your goal, make a plan of the steps you need to get there and go for it.

10.Get help if you need it

If you can afford it try to find a coach to help you with your mindset and get you through the challenges and struggles you are suffering with. Coaching is especially good for helping you with relationship issues where living together in a kind of confinement is causing friction and arguments. Its also wonderful for changing your mindset to relieve stress and anxiety. Most coaches will speak to you for free to find out what you need and how working together will help you.

If you find that no matter what you do you still feel anxious or depressed and find it hard to keep going each day then please try to avoid turning to crutches like alcohol, comfort food or spending hours gaming in front of a screen, or worse still gambling.


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are all in the same storm even if we are not all in the same boat. This situation, as weird and as awful as it is will pass. Yes, we all need to adapt to get through it, even just in small ways like wearing masks when shopping and washing our hands more regularly.

Everyday try to focus on your blessings and the positives in your life. Help others and ask for the help you need, find things to do and most importantly take care of yourself and be kind.

We will get through this together