CABIN FEVER: 9 ways to help yourself handle home isolation
The busy road I’ve lived on for the last four years has never been so quiet. It’s as if humanity has been obliterated. I venture out from my rabbit hole and am greeted by empty sidewalks, closed stores and minimal traffic.
Where has everyone gone? Home.
COVID-19 is everywhere. The world is in crisis, life as we know it has stopped and people are panicked. Public parks are off-limits, grocery stores have six-foot markers on the floors of their checkout lines to instruct customers where to stand, neighbours cross the street when they see you coming, and masks and gloves have become the norm.
Social distancing is our only course of action. The globe is on lockdown, either due to government-enforced closures or self-isolation. But civilization isn’t handling it well. As I follow social threads and read the posts of friends and family members, I see nothing but fear, aggravation and despair. People don’t know what to do. Worst of all, there’s no distraction from it.
Home is my natural work setting. Between my writing deadlines, tending to my family’s menagerie of pets and the fact that the kids are now on an extended break from school, I don’t find it hard to fill my days. For many, this is not the case. Just ask my husband, who has begun to create DIY projects where none were needed.
For us introverts, social isolation is not a big deal. We can survive perfectly well for an extended period of time, with just our own company, in an inactive atmosphere. However, for those who are extraverts, I foresee cabin fever on the horizon, if it hasn’t already set in.
So what do we do?
Whether you’re dealing with bored teens or children, a frustrating work-from-home environment or family chaos—or you’re an isolated senior or single—don’t despair. Not all is lost. Here are some simple ways to prevent insanity during this global period of isolation.
Use social media
It is important for us to remember that we are not alone. Despite the proactive need for social distancing, we can still communicate. Now, more than ever, the internet is our aid. We may not be able to have coffee with our friends, but we can still text, FaceTime, PM, Skype, post on social media and go viral.
If the walls feel like they are closing in on you, reach out. We are all in this together, and someone else out there feels the exact same way you do.
Practice Yoga and/or meditation
Life functions against the clock. We’re always busy, but now is our chance to wind down. Have you ever thought about trying Yoga or meditation, but have never been able to find the time? I have, on countless occasions. Why not give it a shot?
In times of stress, there is nothing better than taking a deep breath. Quiet your thoughts and slow down your heart rate. Even if it is only for 20 minutes a day, roll out a mat, practice your downward dog or lotus position, and build up your inner core.
Exercise and do other activities outdoors
Just because we have to avoid human contact, this does not mean we have to shut ourselves away. I, for one, would go crazy. Fresh air is not going to harm us, especially since current pollution levels are down, due to the decrease in air travel and exhaust fumes. So, while keeping the necessary two-metre distance from others, take your dog for a walk or ride your horse.
If you are a runner, cyclist, jogger, walker, hiker, climber and so on, get out and enjoy nature. Burn off those winter calories, fill your lungs with fresh air and give your immune system a boost by lowering your stress levels. The same goes for ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts or boaters. We may need to isolate ourselves, but we don’t have to live like cavemen.
Get some gardening and spring cleaning done
Spring is in the air. Now is the perfect time to knock down the cobwebs, dust the shelves, get your perennial bulbs started, rake any leftover fall debris and de-clutter.
If you love to garden (be it flowers or vegetables), but the weather isn’t quite right for it yet, here is your chance to pot some plants indoors in preparation. Come summer, you will have the best-looking vegetable or flower garden on the block.
Read and watch movies
If you cannot go to work or interact with others, why not lie around and read or watch movies? If you are a bookworm like me, there’s never a shortage of books. Sure, libraries and bookstores are closed, but if you run out of hard copies, there are always eBooks.
Movie theatres are closed, but again, that doesn’t mean you can’t veg out in front of the TV. Enjoy all of the Netflix, Amazon Prime or Crave shows and movies you’ve been meaning to watch. Indulge in On Demand programs.
But what if you have kids?
The above suggestions are all fine and dandy if you are single, a teen, a senior or part of a couple with no dependants, but what if you have kids? How are you supposed to get some peace of mind or work from home when you have bored children? There is nothing more aggravating or distracting than trying to focus on something with constant interruptions. Trust me, I know.
Thankfully, my kids enjoy outdoor activities, and with our animals and acreage, there’s a lot for them to do. But for suburban families, with no access to public parks, outside entertainment or other amusements, what can you do? Kids can only play with their toys for so long before they lose interest, and if you’re like me and don’t want them constantly playing video games or watching TV, then you may face a real conundrum.
Fortunately, all of the above-mentioned activities can actually include your children. Let them weed the garden, plant a seed, ride their bikes alongside you, hike the trail, calm themselves with Yoga and read books. Some may not find this ideal, as they may want personal space, but you have to remember, they are just as bored as you are.
To further inspire you, here are a few more ideas that will help them fill their time.
Arts and crafts
When my kids tell me they’re bored, I pull out the arts and crafts. Simple household items or things from outdoors can be transformed into art, instruments, science projects, you name it, and they will entertain for hours. The possibilities are endless. With parental help or by themselves, depending on the child’s age and their project, they can become immersed in a new creation every day.
Let them use their imagination, or check out some crafting tips online.
Schools are closed, but that doesn’t mean the kids can’t continue learning. Thanks to programs through district school boards and other educational outlets, such as Scholastic, our children can continue with their education online.
Instead of letting them play games on their devices, sign them up for e-Learning apps. You can also enhance their education with programs on TVO or booklets on phonics, math and such.
This is something the entire family can enjoy. Once again, the internet has come to our aid. Many theme parks, zoos, aquariums, museums and other attractions now offer virtual tours. From the comfort of your home, your family can view historical exhibits, tour theme parks, ride rollercoasters and enjoy the world’s attractions without waiting in line.
Becoming an Earth Ranger
Regardless of whether you live in an apartment or on a farm, nature is always present. Why not make the most of it? Earth Rangers encourages kids to connect with our environment, while educating them at the same time. With their daily activity guide, Earth Rangers will provide many different things your bored child can do.
Don’t succumb to despair
Our universe may be suffering a catastrophic event, but this doesn’t mean you should shut yourself away and succumb to utter despair. More than ever, it is important we keep ourselves healthy, both physically and mentally.
Don’t let cabin fever set in. Enjoy the little things, get in touch with your inner self, pull strength from nature and use this time to bond with your family. But most of all, remember that you are not in this alone.