The Privileged Life: 14 Ways to Conquer Cabin Fever

An old Appalachian cabin that belonged to my great-great-great grandparents….

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

            The telltale signs of coronavirus: dry cough, fatigue, high fever, cabin fever…. 

            In the midst of anxiety over coronavirus and consequences of the shutdown, we’re also dealing with the stress of staying indoors. Argh. 

People employed on the front lines are still getting out (willingly or unwillingly) and will experience some semblance of social interaction, even at a distance. But a huge proportion of us are now relegated to working from home or self-quarantined, either because we’re forced to do it or simply too cautious to venture outside.

A few days of this is okay, mostly tolerable…but we really don’t know how long this is going to last. Sure, deadlines are being set, but daily shifts in this volatile environment are constantly resetting the goals. And, we’re either ill or ill-tempered. 

How do we cope? How do we continue to interact with friends and loved ones? How do parents deal with little ones or even grown children who are home right now?

In this pandemic over which we have no control, let’s concentrate on what we CAN do to make the best of this. For starters, here are some ideas to make the best of home time, especially if you’re not terribly sick:

  1. Remember, this is just for a season. You may never have an opportunity like this again!! Be thankful you can stay at home, unlike many workers who face exposure. Capture every moment and make it count, yet take time to rest as well…otherwise, the stress can overwhelm. Take a deep breath. We’ll get through this. This is to protect you and others…coronavirus IS a serious threat.
  2. Get on a schedule. You’re not on vacation. Treat your day as a regular workday, set goals, minimize distractions. Set alarms for projects, and turn everything off at the normal end of your workday.
  3. Have a family powwow. Make sure everyone understands expectations and responsibilities. This is not home as usual. Kids need to know they must occupy themselves with schoolwork, reading quietly, or playing with toys while you’re trying to make conference calls. Set the boundaries and enforce them, even with adult children. Remind everyone to stay calm.
  4. Make a prioritized list of to-dos. Choose one unusual project you could accomplish in the coming weeks so that when you look back, you’ll have used your time productively. Be realistic…focus on one project at a time, not several dozen.
  5. Be creative with communication. Make phone calls to your loved ones, especially those who are elderly or quarantined. Write letters by hand and mail them, or send online messages. Set up neighborhood “chats” where friends bring chairs…sit in your driveway or lawn or apartment balconies at least six feet apart!
  6. Get outside. Take a hike in the woods. Walk around the block (as long as you stay away from others). Take the kids outdoors…springtime weather will be here soon, and sunshine will improve their health outlook as well as yours.  
  7. Take photos of positive happenings. Yes, this is a terrible time of illness, fear, and anxiety. But focus your lens on moments that will offer good memories in the future. Organize your old photos; print joyful snapshots from the past to put on your fridge or desk.
  8. Unplug for part of your day or an entire day. Play board games. Read a book. Work on a craft. Don’t look at a screen, and don’t look at the news (especially the stock market).
  9. Get your finances in order. The coronavirus and its effects, particularly closings and layoffs, are putting us all under financial stress. Look carefully at your debts, assets, and the state of your checkbook. Set goals to get out of debt, make good spending choices, and save money for the future. Not much shopping is available right now anyway!
  10. Play happy music. Put on peppy music for work or cleaning, calming music for when tempers begin to flare. Set the environmental tone for what needs to happen. Just don’t annoy others by playing it too loudly.
  11. Clean house. Review those New Year’s resolutions and set goals to keep at least one. Clean out a closet or cabinet and make three piles of stuff—to keep, to donate/give, and to throw away. Look for home improvement tasks that won’t involve going to the store for tools or materials.
  12. Cook! Fix family favorites, and experiment with new recipes. Pretend you’re on a cooking show challenge, taking what’s in your pantry and getting a little wild with odd ingredients or substitutions… make it a guessing game with the final product! (But don’t substitute barbecue sauce for tomato sauce in soup. Just. Don’t. I did that once and have never lived it down.) Get your kids involved; find recipes they can make with you.
  13. If you’re overwhelmed, get help. If you or a loved one is feeling heightened anxiety or depression, get in touch with a biblical counselor…many are providing online or phone counseling. You may need to talk with others for comfort and reassurance or just to find a listening ear. Or, perhaps you could call and comfort someone else in trouble. Everyone’s story is important!
  14. Get your spiritual house in order. Rise early. Pray for yourself, pray with your children, pray for your loved ones, pray for first responders and healthcare workers, pray for our nation. Make a prayer list and pray every day. Read your Bible. Watch church services online or listen to podcasts. Keep the Sabbath holy and set apart for rest, relaxation, family time, and serving others. 

With the power of the Holy Spirit, we will get through this difficult time. Look for God’s hand at work in your life and with those around you. For true joy in these bleak days, find social-distance ways to be salt and light to others, in the love of Christ. May you be blessed far beyond these days of cooped-up isolation! May God be with you to encourage you!

Sovereign God, please send Your Holy Spirit to comfort us during these unsettling days. Heal our people, end the spread of this sickness quickly, and revive our hearts. Grant us patience with each other and peace in our hearts as our lives turn upside down. Be our Comforter and Redeemer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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2 thoughts on “The Privileged Life: 14 Ways to Conquer Cabin Fever

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  1. What great ideas, Nancy! No need to waste this enforced confinement! We’re beautifying a corner of the side yard with existing plants that have proliferated or rooted themselves in different parts of our yard. Don’t even have to go to the nursery!

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