Beating cabin fever

Published April 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Atty. Gregorio Y. Larrazabal

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal
Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Before starting to read this, let me ask you a question:  Have you made that call to your family which you promised yourself that you’d do?  If yes, good!  If not, stop reading.  Call them, then continue reading after the call.

Right now, many are already stressed. Probably suffering from cabin fever.  For those who complied with the directive to stay home for over month, it’s very stressful indeed.  Please find below some tips on how to deal with cabin fever and stress.  Many of the tips below I’ve collated from numerous articles I’ve seen on-line (they’re not mine.  But I agree with the recommendations).  I suggest you do your own, and make the appropriate modifications by adding or removing some on the list.  To tailor fit to your needs.

  1. Establish a Routine

 As I wrote last Monday, having a routine is very important to maintain a sense of normalcy.A pattern to follow gives you a sense of stability and normalcy.  We need that during these times.

  1. Manage your expectations

What this means is to set goals that you believe are achievable.  Ease up a bit on your to-do list.  Be it for work or leisure.  For example:  Don’t make a list of 15 books to read during the next few weeks of ECQ when you know you won’t be able to read all 15 books.  Set a target of a number of books that you know you can finish, like 3.  If you’ll be able to finish those three books, then you add another list.  You do it in phases.  It’s less stressful on your part and being able to complete a task or goal is satisfying.

  1. Manage your stress level

As stated above, a routine is important.  It helps manage your stress level.  How?  A routine gives you a sense of normalcy.  This includes a set time to eat, relax and sleep everyday.  Take a bath at least once a day.  Although selling liquor is prohibited now, some still take a few sips to manage stress.  Everyone need a blow-off valve.  Like I wrote in my last column, EXERCISE.  It will help regulate your emotions, lower your stress level, and improve your sleep.

  1. Identify red flags

“One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts or physical sensations that tend to contribute to your cycle of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Our thoughts (“Why can’t I concentrate?”), feelings (frustration, worry, sadness), physical sensations (tension, upset stomach, jitters) and actions (such as compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics) each feed into and amplify these negative emotional spirals. Addressing one aspect of this loop by, for example, actively reducing the physical symptoms can de-escalate the cycle and help you regain control.”

  1. Sprinkle your routine with happy activities

Watch a funny video, or movie, talk with family or friends (about fun times, not about the latest news on COVID-19). It breaks the monotony and gives you that boost to continue working after.

  1. Try eating anti-depressant food

Some experts have suggested that the food you eat can help.  A well-nourished body is better at handling stress.  However, eating too much could do the exact opposite.  As according to one expert, “Traditional Mediterranean food, sometimes referred to as the ‘anti-depression diet’, for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, includes whole grains, vegetables (particularly green leaves), fruit, berries, nuts (including almonds), seeds and olive oil to look after your mental health.”Note: Even if ice cream makes us feel better, it also makes us fat.

  1. Focus on the present

Yes, sometimes it’s good to plan out for the future.  What will happen next week?  Will I have enough food?  Will the gov’t extend the ECQ after May 15? What if my neighbors get the virus?  The list goes on and on.  You keep on thinking about what will happen.  But many of those scenario-building will only add to your stress and anxiety.  Focus on today.  By focusing on the present, you’ll be able to live a life.  Yes, sometimes think about what the future may bring.  It can help you plan.  But don’t allow yourself to drown in it.

  1. Connect with nature

This is tricky.  Specially with the ECQ regulations that you can’t go out unless you have a pass or worry you might get the virus if you interact with others who do.

So, what do you do?  Bring some of the outdoors inside!  At this time, it’s good to be creative.  Some ideas are:

  1. Put a plant inside your house. Houseplants can help make your home livelier and help with improving he air quality inside your home.
  1. Open your windows.  Specially those who live in condominiums.  The air inside gets stuffy.  A doctor suggested to me before that I open the windows sometimes, just to let new air in.  It actually worked.  Based on the air sensor I have, the air quality got better at times.
  1. Watch a nature documentary.  Turn off the lights and focus on the show.  You could be imagining yourself in the middle of the wilderness, instead of the metropolis.
  1. For some, they’re used to noise from the streets.  People walking and chatting, vehicles passing, cars honking their horns, school PA systems blaring early in the morning.  Daily noise which seems to all but disappear now.  It’s eerily quiet now.  For some, that’s disconcerting.  They NEED noise.  It’s something they expect everyday.  Get some ambient noise going.  It could possibly help when you feel like you’re being caged up.

Still feel stressed?  Try these:

  1. Learn a new language.  The Rosetta Stone website has promos now.  Might be a good time to learn French or Greek.
  2. Take out that cookbook you bought last year and try a new recipe.
  3. Rearrange your furniture. Sometimes that does the trick and makes your feel better.  Remember though:  Lift with your legs, not with your back.
  4. Engage in some house-cleaning.
  5. Watch the latest Netflix TV show or movie.  Kingdom is a nice series to watch.

The whole idea is to keep your mind occupied with different things and before you know it, the ECQ is already over.