The term cabin fever refers to the irritability, boredom, and general distress that people historically would feel during winters of isolation at home, unable to traverse snow-covered roads. As we’ve gotten more capable of coping with the harsh realities of winter, however, long periods of isolation are not typically something most people deal with. Of course, the pandemic has changed that for most of us. And while cabin fever isn’t an official diagnosis that you’d get from a health professional, it is a real concern for your mental health.

Signs of Cabin Fever

Cabin fever may not have a designation in the DSM-5, but it describes a very real problem of isolation-induced distress. Humans are naturally social, and without our normal routines and daily interactions, it can be difficult to maintain a positive mood. Some signs of cabin fever to watch out for include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Oversleeping
  • Overeating
  • Drinking alcohol to cope with stress
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in grooming
  • Feeling burned out with work or daily activities

How to Improve Your Mood

It’s tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the unpredictability and worsening severity of the pandemic in the U.S. However, there are some things you can do to improve your mood without compromising your safety.

  • Stay physically active—take a walk, do some jumping jacks, or try out a yoga class on YouTube. Anything that gets your body moving will help boost your mood.
  • Eat a nutritious diet. Occasional comfort food indulgences are fine, but be sure that you eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins daily.
  • Go outside. Surrounding yourself with nature—or even tending to a houseplant—can have deeply therapeutic effects.
  • Connect to loved ones with technology and creativity. If you’re tired of video calls, try writing a letter or drawing a picture to send to a loved one.
  • Get projects done. Need to clean the house? Want to finally build that bookshelf? Take advantage of your lighter social schedule to tend to those projects you’ve been neglecting. As you start taking on more tasks, you’ll likely feel motivated to keep going!

When you just can’t find your motivation, it’s okay to reach out for help. MeMD provides talk therapy with affordable session rates and remote availability, so you can always find the help you need.

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