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Give yourself a pat on the back for getting through a very long and gloomy January. With the start of the new month, though, the lockdown restrictions don't seem to ease; and although we know that staying at home is essential to save lives, it's taking its toll on our mental and physical wellbeing.
Cabin fever is not a real diagnosis; however, a lot of us are becoming more and more tired of staying at home. As social creatures, the lack of social connection caused by what it feels like being a never-ending isolation is contributing to this feeling of irritability and restlessness. This is also worsened by loss of sense of time (what year is it again?), lack of routine, and the loss of we would refer to as "our normality".
To put it scientifically, our ventral vagal nerve (social connection system), is not triggered as frequently as in "normal" social situations. When this system stops being active, we feel extremely low. This means that it's completely normal that you feel a bit down in the dumps because of lockdown.
No matter how many times you've heard someone saying or read it in articles, you should really put some comfy shoes on and go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is helpful in processing what you've been feeling during that day, which is always better than just leaving your emotions inside our bodies; it makes us feel better.
Even better if you're a runner. Running helps lift your mood, sleep better, and has positive effects on your depression. We understand that running is not for everyone, so don't feel like you have to push yourself to become one!
Activate you ventral vagal nerve and lift up your moods! Trying doing so by:
We really need social connections in times like these. Our mind might tell us that it's not worth the effort, but our social connection system will thank us for spending some time with someone we love. You need social connection even if you're introverted, perhaps on a small level, but this will help you feel better.
Find a sense of purpose. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, do it anyway. Perhaps this purpose is doing something nice for someone else; such as, offering to do the shopping for someone that lives in your neighbourhood. It might involve stepping out of your comfort zone and your "cabin fever" to help someone; this can have benefits for us too.
Plan your days; this will help give you a sense of structure and normality. For example, 8.45am have a cup of tea before starting work - 1pm make a sandwich - 5pm watch tv after work.
Keep your body moving can be wholesome; this can range from, dancing, working out, to going for a walk at lunch time. Whatever works for you.
Meditating can be beneficial too. If you're new to meditation, you can try free apps such as Medito, Insight Timer, MyLife Meditation. They will help you become more mindful of the way you think; you will learn how to recognise when negative thoughts are approaching, and how to let them pass without judgement.
Regular meditation teaches the amygdala, our threat detector, not to react so quickly or so often.
Finally, and most importantly, spend some time every morning trying to understand what your mind and body need. It might be different each day.