How to Deal with COVID-19 Cabin Fever


While the main hope is that all of our friends and families are safe, luckily most of us will just experience some inconvenience. That will likely take the form of self-quarantined Cabin Fever. Safety is key and it is best to follow all CDC recommendations. Wash hands often, avoid unnecessary contact and contact the health department if you have symptoms, and stay home if you have that option.

Here are more tips on how you can manage your COVID-19 cabin fever.

Stay Positive

This whole issue feels very scary, so it is important to mitigate fear and try to reframe the situation in a positive light. If your company or school is having you work remotely, think of the positives; you get to wear cozier clothes, be around pets more during the day, and maybe even work outside if the weather is nice. Avoid keeping the news on in the background while you are home. Get the main information you need and move on for the day. Beyond the simple facts and advice for safety, repeated reports and panic will not serve you.

Find the Silver Lining

If you missed out on toilet paper or some other staple before it got wiped out, try reframing it as a test of your resourcefulness and your survival skills. Get to know a neighbor if you really need that roll of Charmin, and maybe offer them your extra bottle of Purell in return. Treat your nightly dinner routine as a Chopped challenge and try to make the best of your cabinet and freezer. Get creative with other options, although Tito’s has made it quite clear it cannot double as hand sanitizer, maybe some traditional rubbing alcohol forgotten in your cabinet will work. (And the Tito’s might get you through a particularly boring Friday night in.) See how many life hacks you can emulate from Pinterest to get you through without an extra trip to scour yet another store for supplies.

*RELATED How to Prep Your Kitchen for a Coronavirus Pandemic

Catch Up on Chores

Make a list of things you have needed to get done for a while, that you have not “had time for” that you can do from home. Launching a website, deep cleaning behind the stove, setting up a meditation nook, all could be fun and time-consuming projects that will make you feel productive and soak up some of your excess restless energy.

Get Creative

Speaking of energy, if you are into exercising you will have to get creative. For right now, you can keep attending your gym, but sanitize hands and machines before and after. Don’t go if you have any symptoms. Don’t shake hands, kiss or hug, but give workout buddies verbal support instead. If it gets to a point where you can no longer attend in-person classes, now might be the time to invest in an Echelon bike or mirror, or try out a streaming service on Netflix or Prime to get a great home sweat.

Mix it Up

Try designating different areas of your house and yard for different activities or parts of the day. It might be tempting to stay in bed all day, but breaking up your routine by having breakfast in the kitchen, answering emails in your office, taking a lunch break on the patio, and doing yoga in the living room can make the day seem less monotonous. You might also choose to get dressed like you are headed to work to help yourself focus and change into cozy clothes when you’ve finished the day’s assignments.

Stay Connected

Stay connected to friends and family. This is a time when connecting through technology is definitely preferred. Facetime the folks you really would love to see in person but are at higher risk, like grandma and grandpa, or any friend with underlying medical conditions. They will likely need some extra love during this time. You can also start an online book club, have a virtual girls’ night in, and actually attend those Zoom meetings for work. Human interaction will combat the loneliness of being cooped up.

Enjoy Self-Care

Use this time to get the rest you may have been needing. While you may have the same amount of work, your commute likely equals 1-2 hours of your day that you can now spend on self-care. Take luxurious bubble baths, use that massage gun that’s been collecting dust, start a stretching routine. You may choose to make it a point to get a full eight hours a night when you would normally only have time for six, which will help restore your body and boost your immune system. If you use that extra time thoughtfully it can feel like a bit of a staycation.

*RELATED 9 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Lastly, when this all settles down, use this as a reminder that being home all of the time is not actually what you want. It is easy to fall into the apathetic mindset that you don’t want to go to work in the morning. But if you end up home for two straight weeks, you might realize you actually enjoy being out and about.

Shifting your mindset from fear and panic to seeing the upsides and being grateful for those hidden bonuses, will cause you less stress and make this time a bit easier on you and your mental health.

Sarah Russ, LCSW is a mental health professional in Miami focused on practical, actionable therapeutic strategies for mental well-being in a world of overstimulation and misconceptions about what constitutes true self-care. Sarah received her Master of Social Work from NYU and has been working in mental health for seven years. She specializes in healthy coping strategies and crisis management for those with chronic illnesses, substance use, and anxiety. You can follow her @mentalhealthformillenials or schedule a session with her at Arvon & Associates in Aventura, Doral, or Virtually by calling 305-936-8000.

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