DAVAO

What is cabin fever and how to manage it?

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IT'S already January 2021 and in two months, we will be remembering the first anniversary of when Davao City needed to be placed under community quarantine. Currently, we're back under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) as the cases continue to surge.

Reports reveal the Philippines may have one of the longest quarantine implementations in the whole world. Movement restrictions may have resulted in people spending most days alone in their apartment and not seeing their family for months, even for a year now.

Have you been experiencing symptoms or suspect someone you know who does? In this interview with the president of the Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (Copers) Mabel Lemen last year, she shared with us what cabin fever is, its symptoms, and suggested activities one may engage in to lessen these symptoms.

What is cabin fever?

It's a common term we use for people who experience some negative symptoms especially when they're staying at home. It's not a diagnosis nor a diagnosable disorder, so to speak but it's a combination of symptoms when we are stuck at home.

What are the symptoms of cabin fever?

Some symptoms of cabin fever would include lethargy, sadness or depression, trouble concentrating, lack of patience, food cravings, decreased motivation, sleeping difficulties, or difficulty waking up and getting out of bed. We could also experience just wanting to sleep the whole day. Worse, we could even feel hopeless.

How can you deal with cabin fever to lessen the symptoms?

1. You can get out of your house. You can at least breathe some fresh air.

2. Maintain normal eating habits. Don't eat too much, don't eat too little.

3. Set goals for yourself. It doesn't need to be goals that keep you busy the entire day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Make sure that when you set your goals, make sure they are Smart -- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bounded.

4. Learn new skills, develop yourself. Consider anything that you're interested in. Or read more books. Learn as much as you can.

5. Get some exercise. If for example you can't leave your house, then you can just jog in place. You can dance to your favorite music. Do things as long as you're moving.

Other activities you might get involved in is mindfulness. There are a lot of resources on the Internet about mindfulness and how to get started. So mindfulness is about living in the present rather than focusing on the past which may lead to depression or focusing too much on the future which may lead to anxiety.

Another thing you can do is engage in breathing exercises. These help calm you down. These help you feel more relaxed. And it's free! All you have to do is breathe in for a few seconds through your nose and breathe out for a few seconds through your mouth.

You can also meditate. Meditating actually helps you process how you feel, your emotions. At the same time, it helps you problem solve -- get to the bottom of what it is that worries you, what it is that makes you sad. But don't stop there. Try and process how you feel. Get to the bottom of it and try to think of solutions to the things that worry you or make you anxious.

Prayer can also help you deal with day-to-day stressors.

What are the warning signals for people suffering from cabin fever?

Observe their sleeping patterns. Is your loved one being irritable? Is your loved one easily angered? Is your loved one not getting out of bed? Are they experiencing a lot of changes in mood, in their behavior -- those are possible warning signals that you need to watch out for.

If you know someone who actually starts exhibiting symptoms that are not normal for them, then perhaps you can set aside some time. Make sure that this person knows you're there for them to listen. Make sure you give that person your undivided attention.

Don't force them to talk if they don't want to. Just let them know that you're there for them. Don't try to guess how they feel because we are not mind readers. You have to listen carefully to what they tell you.

Offer to accompany them to a mental health professional or perhaps you can make the appointment for them because you really need to know your limits. There are certain symptoms your loved one may be experiencing that may be beyond what you can do.


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