Whether you’re stuck inside because you’re sick, under quarantine or you’re physically unable to leave your home or apartment for any other reason, dealing with cabin fever can be incredibly difficult.
Cabin fever, or the feeling of being restless or irritable or claustrophic when you’re continually stuck in isolation or in a confined area for too long, is something that many people dealt with during the coronavirus epidemic of 2020.
The easiest way to cure cabin fever is simply get out of the house or apartment – take a walk in nature, go to work on something outside, just step out of your house and go anywhere else.
However, this article on handling cabin fever assumes that going outside at all is not possible.
These are the best ways to cure cabin fever when real nature isn’t in the cards for you.
Keep in mind, these are specifically how to deal with cabin fever, not just things that you can do when you’re bored.
1. Open a Window and Look through It
Okay, it sounds simple but sometimes you can cure your cabin fever temporarily by opening a window and sticking your head outside it.
Just because you have to stay indoors doesn’t mean you can’t open the windows and doors and let the fresh air blow through (usually).
Even if the weather isn’t great, opening a window so that you can feel the fresh air on your face is an excellent way to remind yourself that you won’t always be cooped up at home.
Similarly, make sure to keep your curtains and blinds open and close them as little as possible.
Let as much natural light as possible flow in.
2. Tour the World on Google Maps
You don’t have to get up from your computer to see some of the world’s most gorgeous landscapes.
On Google Maps, you can “streetview” almost any location so you can wander the streets of Paris, walk underneath Big Ben, or stroll through the Big Apple no matter the time of day.
I absolutely love this feature when I’m wanting to see other parts of the world.
Natural areas won’t usually have streetview because streetview requires a road to be running through the area, but it will often give you the option to look at multiple pictures that other people have took on their travels.
This is such a fantastic way of doing a bit of travel daydreaming, so don’t forget about it.
3. Start a New Hobby to Distract You
Whether it’s learning to bake or sew or a number of other hobbies, choose to pick up a new hobby that encourages you to learn a new skill and feel like you’re growing as a person.
For some, cabin fever is made worse becase of this idea that our life is “on hold,” and yes you can watch a million Netflix shows or sleep the day away to pass the time, but make a commitment to not just passing the time.
You can still grow as a person while stuck indoors, so don’t forget to work on yourself still.
This also helps distract you from your negative feelings associated with cabin fever, as well as giving you that feeling of accomplishment that keeps us moving forward.
4. Plan a Future Trip
Don’t just daydream about places to go when you’re no longer inside – plan it!
These days, you can plan trips from your own home without needing to speak to anyone else.
Just hop on the internet and do some research on your next travel destination to get excited.
Look up pictures of all of the attractions you’re going to see, put together an itinerary complete with directions you’ve looked up, and get everyone excited about the days ahead.
5. Make Your Inside Space as “Large” as Possible
There is no doubt that there is a physical aspect of cabin fever.
If you live in a mansion, you’ll probably come down with it a bit slower than someone in a studio apartment.
Take the opportunity to rearrange furniture or storage items so that you have a larger empty space in the room to breathe.
We’ve rearranged our bedroom so that it didn’t feel as claustrophic, and we’ve rearranged our closets so we could fit more inside so that the rooms themselves could be more clear from clutter.
This makes a big difference when you’re stuck in the same place for days, weeks, or months at a time.
6. Read a Book about Traveling
Disappear into the outside world by means of a book.
Use your imagination to transport yourself into a new world, whether it’s the Wizarding World of Hogwarts or the endless fields in Wuthering Heights.
I think sometimes we rely so much on watching things or seeing things on screens that we forget that we have our own ability to picture new worlds and farflung destinations in our heads, and we’ve been doing it ever since we learned to read.
Get back to the joy of reading fiction and temporarily escaping your own mind and cabin fever for awhile.
7. Watch a Movie with Beautiful Scenery
Watching a movie is a great way to pass the time while cooped up inside, but not just any movie.
Choose a movie with beautiful scenery to feel a bit more connected to nature.
This could be anything from Into the Wild with its stunning views of Alaska to a television show like LOST that puts the full beauty of Hawaii on display.
Sure, it sucks that you can’t get out, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t see outdoors in other ways.
8. Get Dressed as If You’re Going Out
In addition to the feelings of being trapped that cabin fever can cause, it also can cause negative feelings in other areas of your life.
To help you feel as alive and well as possible, I recommend getting dressed every day the same way you would if you were going out of the house.
Wear as much as possible that is similar to your normal routine and don’t just walk around in pajamas all day.
This lends itself to more negative feelings over a longer period of time because you don’t feel as “put together” or presentable.
This could also mean wearing make-up, doing your hair like you would if you were to leave the house, and any accessories or jewelry you may wear out of the house.
Okay, so you’re not leaving the house and you might not have anyone looking at you. Fine.
You’ll still feel a lot better when you look in the mirror.
9. Have a Picnic in the Living Room
Time to pack your imaginations and some sandwiches and chips for a picnic in the living room!
Move all of the furniture out of the way, spread some blankets down, open those windows and enjoy an impromptu picnic indoors that may lack the actual sunshine, but has the same joy and games of an outdoor picnic.
There’s something freeing about eating on the floor that can be fun for kids who are also cooped up and adults who are looking for creative ways to keep the family’s spirits up.
And – bonus. There are no ants to eat your dessert!
10. Put on Nature Sounds
We’re starting to reach a bit, but you know what, depending on how long you’ve suffered from cabin fever, you may be begging for any suggestions at all.
So here you go – put on nature sounds in the background.
Whether it’s the ocean waves, crickets chirping or wind blowing through the mountains, you can find plenty of nature soundtracks on Youtube that you can then blast through the house to remind yourself of what the outside world sounds like.
It may help to calm you and give you something else to listen to besides the creaks of the house.
I used to wake up every morning to nature sounds and I can tell you that I was definitely much happier those mornings versus waking up after listening to the constant blaring of a normal alarm.
11. Exercise Indoors
Just because you’re indoors doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.
And, by the way, you should exercise.
It helps to release endorphins and make us happier, which in turn will make it easier to deal with your cabin fever.
You won’t need a large space either – just space enough to lie down.
And if you don’t even have them, then doing a standing room only workout.
If you want to get really clever, jog in place to a nature video that resembles what you would see as you run through a forest or along the ocean.
12. Use a SAD Lamp
Part of what we’re missing when we are stuck indoors is the rays of the sunshine.
Even on a cloudy day, it would still be preferable mentally to get what there is of the sun’s rays instead of being inside.
To combat this feeling in the winter when it gets dark early and the days are less sunny, many people use a SAD lamp like this one which resembles sunlight.
The idea is that it is a kind of treatment to help your body cope and adjust to the darkness, whether that’s caused by being indoors or the grey skies.
It can also keep you calm if you’re stressed by the winter.
You can put it next to you and just leave it on while you eat breakfast or check your e-mail or do a number of daily activities.
13. Set a Routine
You know all of the tips above?
Put them into a scheduled routine, stick to a plan, and do them every day to give your life a sense of order and make sure you’re doing what you need to do to cure your cabin fever.
The odd lazy day here or there is always welcomed, but if you’re truly stuck indoors for an indefinite period of time and you are starting to feel negative about it, you should make sure to plan a routine that you can stick to and live a more regimented life.
It helps you feel like you’re in control rather than feeling like your situation has control of you, and it means you can make sure you have time to get all of the positive habits in.
Use a “Daily intentions” journal like this to help keep you on track.