I spend the majority of my time cooped up at home, thanks to chronic pain and a few debilitating health conditions. People often ask me how I do it; how I can spend so much time confined between the same four walls without going stir crazy. I always tell them the same thing: I do go stir crazy, just like everybody else. Some days I'm practically climbing the walls, desperate to escape back to the excitement of the big wide world where the cure for cabin fever lies. Some days I feel so trapped I can barely breathe; I hate being tethered, but I don't have much choice in the matter. The truth is, in the five years I've been house-bound, I've just learned how to keep cabin fever at bay and how to pacify it when it does strike; I've had plenty of time to iron out the kinks, after all.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I figure most of us suffer from cabin fever from time to time, whether we're stuck at home because of illness, accident, unemployment, poor weather, loneliness, family commitments, waiting on a delivery, or for one of countless other reasons, so I thought I'd share some of my tried and tested tips for beating cabin fever in the hope of making your next bout that little bit easier. I hope they help!
1. Let's start with an obvious one: get out of the house if you're able to. Go for a walk or a drive, meet up with friends or do something fun. Just go do something. Anything.
2. Get out in to the garden or on to your balcony for some fresh air and vitamin D. Perhaps do some gardening, exercise, play sports with your kids or fetch with your dog, or just sit and enjoy the sunshine.
3. Open a window or your patio doors and let the fresh air in.
4. Turn the heating off / down so the house is less stuffy.
5. Take a nap and sleep it off. Naps make everything better. Fact.
6. Take a cool refreshing shower or wash your face with cold water to perk yourself up.
7. Change your clothes daily, even if it's just putting on a fresh pair of PJs.
8. Have a tidy and declutter to make the house less claustrophobic.
9. Make your home feel so cosy and inviting that you'll never want to leave.
10. Keep fresh flowers or plants in the house to add some life. If you can't go out to buy some, perhaps cut some from the garden.
11. Avoid watching travel shows, reading travel posts, or looking at travel photos on the net- they'll probably only aggravate your cabin fever.
12. Alternatively, if you think it will help you, do watch travel shows, read travel posts, and look at travel photos on the net and live vicariously through others.
13. Plan something fun to look forward to and focus on- a holiday, a concert, a trip to the beach, even a catch up with friends over coffee or cocktails... I find it's easier to cope with captivity when I know I have a break from it on the horizon, and something exciting to keep going for.
14. Keep yourself occupied at all times, so you don't just sit around bored out of your mind dwelling on your confinement. Distraction is key.
15. Mix things up- a routine can become so boring and predictable that it can feel like you're living a Groundhog Day life, making cabin fever rage. Do different things each day you're stuck at home, or at least do them in a different order to stop the days blurring in to one.
16. Start a project that will take some time to complete- make a cross stitch picture, crochet a blanket, write a novel, blog, upcycle a piece of furniture, paint, redecorate, start a new computer game... anything that will keep you busy for a while.
17. Get lost in a good book; after a while you'll forget you're stuck indoors, as you'll be submerged in another world. It's a good opportunity to get through some of the unread books on your bookshelf.
18. If you can't leave the house, invite friends or family over for dinner or a night in- bring the fun and company to you.
19. Play some 'happy' tunes up loud.
20. Watch a feel good movie or two.
21. Phone up a friend for a catch up.
22. Write and let your feelings and frustration out on to paper or screen. You don't need to share your words with anyone, but emptying them from your mind can help to lighten the weight on your shoulders.
23. Pamper yourself. Have a bubble bath, light some candles, put on a face mask, give yourself a mani-pedi, and just let yourself unwind. Heaven!
24. Bake something so the house smells inviting. Plus you get to eat something delicious afterwards, which is always a bonus.
25. Treat yourself to a tasty meal, whether it's a home-cooked favourite, or a cheeky takeaway. You'll be so full and content that you'll not want to leave the comfort of your sofa for the rest of the night.
26. Make a list of all the things you want to do as soon as you're able to leave the house again, and start planning one or two of them.
27. Get around to all those odd jobs you've been meaning to do but have never quite found time for.
28. Hang out with your pets. Just spending time with them can make a huge difference to our moods, and stoking their coats can help to calm and relax us. Spending time at home isn't so bad when you've got an awesome buddy to hang out with.
29. Talk to a friend or a family member about how you're feeling. Venting your feelings can really help to pacify them.
30. Sit by a window and watch the world go by. Watch people going about their various concerns, rain falling from the sky, animals scurrying around, the wind moving through the trees... whatever you can see.
31. Stretch your legs around the house every now and then.
32. Spend time in different rooms, where possible, to change up your day a little. A change of scenery can do us some good.
32. Eat well and drink plenty of water so that you don't feel sluggish.
33. If you're at home for some time due to an illness, injury, or disability and are fortunate to have a great support system around you, don't shut yourself off from the people in your life. Let them be there for you. Believe me, feeling like you're alone in the world will only make cabin fever feel so much worse.
34. If you are alone and lonely, and don't feel like anybody can relate to the reason you're cooped up at home, connect with like-minded people online. Talk to people going through the same situation or who share the same interests as you. Forge friendships. Build an online support network. It might just help you deal with what you're going through, and help to ease the symptoms of cabin fever.
35. Do whatever it is you enjoy most that can be done from home.
36. If you get claustrophobic and the walls start closing in, remember to breathe. Take lots of deep breaths, and concentrate on breathing in and out until it passes.
37. Make yourself as comfortable as possible while you're at home. Wear comfy clothes, go bra-less, if applicable (ladies you know what I'm talking about!), bring your duvet on to the sofa, spend a day in bed... do whatever you need to do to make yourself comfortable and relaxed. Make your confinement as pleasant as you can.
38. Open your curtains / blinds every day to let the light in. Hiding yourself away in the darkness like the Phantom of the Opera won't do your mental health any favours.
39. Use this time to learn something new. Perhaps you've always wanted to learn how to paint using watercolours, maybe you've always dreamed of learning how to play the guitar, decorate cakes, knit, start a blog, master creative writing, or learn a language. Being stuck indoors doesn't have to eat away at your life; it can add life to it!
40. If you're cooped up for a prolonged period because of your health and feel like you're not coping well mentally, speak to your doctor. He or she might be able to help you, or at least refer you to someone who can. Don't suffer in silence. Ask for help.
If you're looking for more ways to occupy yourself while house-bound, check out my 50 Ways To Beat Boredom At Home.
How do you fight cabin fever?