Cabin Fever - what does it mean for your mental health? - UKSA (2022)

Published 21/04/2020

Cabin Fever - what does it mean for your mental health? - UKSA (1)

Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during astorm.In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world. So if you are experiencing it now it makes sense.

Indeed, cabin fever is a series of emotions or symptoms people experience when they’re confined to their homes for extended periods of time. This may be due to a variety of circumstances, such as a natural disaster, lack of transportation, or even social distancing for pandemics likeCOVID-19.

Recognising the symptoms of cabin fever and finding ways to cope may help make the isolation easier to deal with. Keep reading to learn more about how to do this.

What is cabin fever?

In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you’ve been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that’s not the reality of the symptoms.

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Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they’re isolated or feeling cut off from the world.

These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times ofsocial distancing, self-quarantining during apandemic, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.

Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.

Cabin fever isn’t a recognised psychological disorder, but that doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.

So what are the symptoms?

Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or “stuck” at home. They’re rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:

Your personality and natural temperament will go a long way toward determining how cabin fever affects you.

Some people can weather the feelings more easily; they may take on projects or dive into creative outlets to pass the time and ward off the symptoms.

But others may face great difficulty with managing day-to-day life until these feelings pass.

What can help you cope with cabin fever?

Because cabin fever isn’t a recognized psychological condition, there’s no standard “treatment.” However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.

The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you’re secluded in the first place.

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Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.

The following ideas are a good place to start.

  • Spend time outdoors

Research shows that time spent in nature is time well spent for mental health.

Not only does spending time outdoors boost your cognitive function, it may also help:

If getting outdoors isn’t an option, you could try:

  • opening up your windows to let the outdoor breeze in
  • adding a bird feeder outside your window to bring birds closer to your living space
  • ordering or buying fragrant, fresh-cut flowers and placing them where you can see and smell them throughout the day
  • growing herbs or small plants on a windowsill, patio, or balcony
  • Give yourself a routine

You may not have a 9-to-5 job to report to while you’re isolated, but a lack of routine can cause disruptions in eating, sleeping, and activity.

To keep a sense of structure, try to create a daily routine that consists of work or house projects, mealtimes, workout time, and even downtime.

Having an outline for your day helps you keep track of the trajectory of your hours and gives you mini “goals” to hit throughout the day.

  • Maintain a social life

So you can’t go to the movies or meet your friends for dinner. But you can still “meet up” with them — just in a different way.

Use real-time video streaming services, like FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype, to chat with your friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Face-to-face chat time can keep you in contact with the “outside world” and make even your small home feel a whole lot bigger.

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Connecting with others who are in a similar situation can also help you feel that you’re not alone. Sharing your thoughts, emotions, and challenges with others can help you realize that what you’re feeling is normal.

Connecting with others may even help you find creative solutions to an issue you’re grappling with.

  • Express your creative side

Did you play a band instrument in school? Were you once interested in painting? Do you have stacks of photos you once promised yourself you’d put in a scrapbook? Is there a recipe you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time?

Use your time in isolation to reconnect with creative activities that you’ve had to put on hold because life got too busy. Spending time on creative activities keeps your brain busy.

Keeping your mind occupied and engaged may help ward off feelings of boredom or restlessness and make the time pass more quickly.

  • Carve out some ‘me time’

If you live with others, feelings of cabin fever may be intensified by the nearness of other individuals.

Parents have responsibilities to children; partners have responsibilities to one another. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any time on your own.

Give yourself time “away” from others to relax. Find a quiet place to read a book, meditate, or pop in some earbuds for an engaging podcast.

If you’re feeling stressed, you may even want to tune in to a podcast onmental healthoranxiety.

  • Break a sweat

Researchhas shown that people who exercise regularly are less prone to anxiety than people who don’t exercise. That’s because physical activity lowers your body’s stress hormones, such ascortisol.

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At the same time, exercise causes your brain to releaseendorphins. These neurochemicals can boost your mood and overall feeling of well-being.

If you can’t get outside, you can do astrength training workout at homeusing just your body weight or simple equipment, like dumbbells or resistance bands.

Or you can put together your own routine by focusing on a few basic but effective exercises, such as:

If you need a more structured program, there are plenty of online exercise options on YouTube and through various exercise apps.

  • Chill out

Not every minute of every day you spend at home has to be planned. Give yourself some time to rest. Look for constructive ways to relax.

Mindfulness,deep breathing, andrelaxation exercisesmay help you maintain your emotional health and balance feelings of isolation or frustration.

  • When to get help

Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.

What’s more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings ofanxiety and fear are valid.In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you’re experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.

Of course, if you’re in isolation or practicing social distancing, you’ll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don’t, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.

Isolation isn’t a natural state for many people, but we must work together to keep everyone safe.

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Stay well everyone.
Kim Fry
(UKSA Welfare Officer)

FAQs

What does feeling cabin fever mean? ›

The term “cabin fever” describes the psychological symptoms that a person may experience when they are confined to their home for extended periods. Such symptoms may include feelings of restlessness, irritability, and loneliness.

How do you overcome cabin fever? ›

Here are some ways you can beat cabin fever:
  1. Go Outdoors. Daylight hours are getting longer and the sun is lifting higher in the sky by the day. ...
  2. Follow a Normal Eating Pattern and Maintain it. ...
  3. Set Goals. ...
  4. Keep Your Brain Busy. ...
  5. Stay Active.

Is cabin fever a real disease? ›

Cabin fever is not itself a disease and there is no prognosis. However, related symptoms can lead the sufferer to make irrational decisions that could potentially threaten their life or the life of the group with whom they are confined.

Where does the phrase cabin fever come from? ›

The origin of the term is a bit murky, but it probably dates back to the early 1900s in North America, when it may have referred to someone who was isolated in a remote area, or cabin, especially during the winter when it was necessary to stay indoors for days at a time.

What's another word for cabin fever? ›

What is another word for cabin fever?
claustrophobiaclimbing the walls
distressneurosis
restlessnesssad
seasonal affective disordertemporary insanity
winter blues

What happens when you stay indoors for too long? ›

Low levels of serotonin are usually linked with mood swings and depression. Cooping inside for great lengths of time can build up anxiety and restlessness. Feeling restless can also make one become more irritable and upset than usual by seemingly minor things.

What is the opposite of cabin fever? ›

What Is The Opposite Of Cabin Fever? Agoraphobia. The term cabin fever typically refers to feeling isolated, away from people, and alone. It is possible that agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is the opposite.

How do you overcome social withdrawal? ›

Schedule time each day to stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors in person, by email, social media, voice call, or text. Talk with people you trust and share your feelings. Suggest an activity to help nurture and strengthen existing relationships.

What disease is cabin fever based on? ›

The story follows a group of college graduates who rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a flesh-eating virus. The inspiration for the film's story came from a real-life experience during a trip to Iceland when Roth developed a skin infection.
...
Cabin Fever (2002 film)
Cabin Fever
Budget$1.5 million
Box office$30.6 million
15 more rows

Can anxiety cause a fever? ›

Can stress and anxiety raise your body temperature? Yes. In some rare cases, anxiety symptoms may lead to a rise in body temperature. This is sometimes referred to as psychogenic fever, or a fever caused by psychological reasons.

Can stress cause a fever? ›

Both acute and chronic stress can trigger fever-like symptoms, including an elevated body temperature, body chills or aches, fatigue, and flushed skin. Psychogenic fevers are rare, but they are most common in females.

Do dogs get cabin fever? ›

Yes, pets can get cabin fever. After a long winter, it's not uncommon to see them exhibit restlessness, and even act out some less than desirable behaviors. Dogs especially may leap up and go racing through the house for no apparent reason (the zoomies).

How do you emotionally survive the winter? ›

Getting outside and exposing the body to sunlight while exercising can improve energy, mood levels and lead to better sleep. To combat isolation, connect with others in person, by phone or email, she said.

How do you know if you are isolating yourself? ›

The following symptoms associated with social isolation are warning signs of unhealthy social isolation: Avoiding social interactions, including those that were once enjoyable. Canceling plans frequently and feeling relief when plans are canceled. Experiencing anxiety or panic when thinking about social interactions.

How do you deal with being lonely? ›

How can I manage loneliness?
  1. Take it slow.
  2. Make new connections.
  3. Try peer support.
  4. Try to open up.
  5. Talking therapies.
  6. Social care.
  7. Be careful when comparing yourself to others.
  8. Look after yourself.

What's another word for stir crazy? ›

What is another word for stir-crazy?
restlessagitated
tenseedgy
franticnervy
uptightjittery
jumpystressy
155 more rows

What happens if you don't go outside for a month? ›

The longer you're inside, the more it can affect your physical and mental health. Not being exposed to sunlight can bring down your mood and, eventually, even soften your bones, among other things. If you find yourself stuck inside for an extended period, find a way to stay connected to the outside world.

HOW DOES NOT going outside affect your mental health? ›

Spending time outdoors reduces your symptoms of anxiety and depression. An analysis of ten studies found that spending time in a green environment improved mood and self-esteem. Those struggling with mental illness saw significant increases in their self-esteem and saw a reduction in their depression symptoms.

Is it OK to stay at home all day? ›

The effects being in outdoor sunlight has on your body and mind. One day inside probably won't hugely affect your health—but it's not great to constantly stay cooped up from morning until dark. The biggest issue is that entering hibernation mode means you don't get any exposure to natural light.

How do you know if you're going to stir crazy? ›

Tell-tale Signs (aka Potential Stir Crazy Symptoms)
  1. Restlessness – finding it difficult to sit and concentrate for long periods.
  2. Sadness or depression.
  3. Decreased motivation.
  4. Changes in weight or appetite.
  5. Losing your patience and snapping at people.

What is social withdrawal a symptom of? ›

Social withdrawal is the most common telltale sign of depression. "When we're clinically depressed, there's a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down," says Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of books including The Depression Cure and associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas.

What does isolation do to the brain? ›

Our study also included neuroimaging (MRI) data from approximately 32,000 people. This showed that socially isolated people had poorer cognition, including in memory and reaction time, and lower volume of grey matter in many parts of the brain.

What causes a person to become withdrawn? ›

A person who is socially withdrawn removes themselves from encounters and interactions with others. There are many reasons why people may choose not to connect with others, including anxiety, fear, shame, vulnerability, potential rejection, and more. It can be a reflection of an underlying mental health condition.

How do you use cabin fever in a sentence? ›

She suffered from cabin fever during the long winter.

Can a fever make you irritable? ›

The definition of fever can vary in adults. However, many doctors will consider a body temperature reading using an oral thermometer that is higher than 100°F (37.8°C) as a fever. A viral fever can cause a person to feel fatigued, irritable, and achy.

What was in the water in cabin fever? ›

They go through the pool where they find Fredricka's rotting body floating in it. They find the principal and get Alex out of the gym. The principal demands to know what is going on with the lock down but the CCD soldiers shoot him in the head, killing him.

What are 5 emotional signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

How can I calm my anxiety? ›

There are a number of things you can try to help combat anxiety, including:
  1. Behavioral therapy.
  2. Deep breathing.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Journaling.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Reading.
  7. Socializing, following pandemic guidelines of social distancing, masking and hand hygiene)
  8. Speaking with your health care provider.
10 Feb 2021

Can you get sick from emotional stress? ›

But ongoing, chronic stress can cause or worsen many serious health problems, including: Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes.

What are your signs of stress? ›

If you are stressed, you might feel:
  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up.
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed.
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid.
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off.
  • Unable to enjoy yourself.
  • Depressed.
  • Uninterested in life.
  • Like you've lost your sense of humour.

What does a stress fever feel like? ›

And anxiety does cause fever-like symptoms: The feeling of having swollen glands (although they're not usually swollen). Extreme hot and cold sensations and fluctuations. Nausea, weakness, and general ill feeling.

Can lack of sleep cause fevers? ›

A lack of sleep or sleep deprivation doesn't cause fever, but it can make you more susceptible to the flu and other illnesses. This is because sleep deprivation compromises your immune system. Research has indicated that a lack of sleep causes stress hormones to inhibit T cells in the body.

Do cats get cabin fever? ›

Winter can be a challenging time for humans and pets alike. Between the cold, snow, and ice posing potential hazards, it's easy for you and your cat or dog to succumb to cabin fever from being cooped up inside for too long.

How do you use cabin fever in a sentence? ›

She suffered from cabin fever during the long winter.

What is the opposite of cabin fever? ›

What Is The Opposite Of Cabin Fever? Agoraphobia. The term cabin fever typically refers to feeling isolated, away from people, and alone. It is possible that agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is the opposite.

Can anxiety cause a fever? ›

Can stress and anxiety raise your body temperature? Yes. In some rare cases, anxiety symptoms may lead to a rise in body temperature. This is sometimes referred to as psychogenic fever, or a fever caused by psychological reasons.

Can stress cause a fever? ›

Both acute and chronic stress can trigger fever-like symptoms, including an elevated body temperature, body chills or aches, fatigue, and flushed skin. Psychogenic fevers are rare, but they are most common in females.

What does fever dream mean? ›

/ˈfiː.və ˌdriːm/ a very strange experience or situation, usually a bad one, that seems like a dream rather than like something that would really happen: As one U. S. embassy employee said to me, this is like a fever dream that we wake up from and say, did we really do that?

What happens in Cabin Fever Movie? ›

Five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.

What is the meaning of jungle fever? ›

jungle fever (uncountable) (medicine) Any of several tropical diseases, but especially malaria. (slang, ethnic slur) Attraction of a person of non-African descent towards people of African descent. synonym ▲ Synonym: black fever.

How do you know if you're going to stir crazy? ›

Tell-tale Signs (aka Potential Stir Crazy Symptoms)
  1. Restlessness – finding it difficult to sit and concentrate for long periods.
  2. Sadness or depression.
  3. Decreased motivation.
  4. Changes in weight or appetite.
  5. Losing your patience and snapping at people.

What's another word for stir crazy? ›

What is another word for stir-crazy?
restlessagitated
tenseedgy
franticnervy
uptightjittery
jumpystressy
155 more rows

What are 5 emotional signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

How can I calm my anxiety? ›

There are a number of things you can try to help combat anxiety, including:
  1. Behavioral therapy.
  2. Deep breathing.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Journaling.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Reading.
  7. Socializing, following pandemic guidelines of social distancing, masking and hand hygiene)
  8. Speaking with your health care provider.
10 Feb 2021

Can you get sick from emotional stress? ›

But ongoing, chronic stress can cause or worsen many serious health problems, including: Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes.

Does depression cause fever? ›

Fever is not a symptom of depression. That said, the line that exists between the flu and depression can still appear blurry. And in either case you need to receive proper treatment.

What are your signs of stress? ›

If you are stressed, you might feel:
  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up.
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed.
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid.
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off.
  • Unable to enjoy yourself.
  • Depressed.
  • Uninterested in life.
  • Like you've lost your sense of humour.

What does a stress fever feel like? ›

And anxiety does cause fever-like symptoms: The feeling of having swollen glands (although they're not usually swollen). Extreme hot and cold sensations and fluctuations. Nausea, weakness, and general ill feeling.

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