Island Senior: Surviving Cabin Fever

Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:43 am by

Coping With Cabin Fever - Peggy Sue McRae photo

Island Senior is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae…

Accord­ing to Wikipedia, cab­in fever refers to “claus­tro­pho­bic irri­tabil­i­ty or rest­less­ness expe­ri­enced when a per­son, or group, is stuck at an iso­lat­ed loca­tion or in con­fined quar­ters for an extend­ed peri­od of time”.

Any­body relate? They go on to say… “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”. That is the part we want to avoid.

In my recent arti­cle, Island Senior: Cop­ing With Coro­n­avirus, How Is Your Men­tal Health? I con­clud­ed with rec­om­men­da­tions from the Wash­ing­ton State Dept. of Health to guard against depres­sion and anx­i­ety by build­ing resilience through con­nec­tion, pur­pose, psy­cho­log­i­cal flex­i­bil­i­ty, and hope. I thought it might be worth­while to give these strate­gies a clos­er look:

Con­nec­tion: Make a point to con­nect with nature. Find a non-touristy patch of woods and take a For­est Bath to rinse off some of that pan­dem­ic angst. Take a dri­ve around our beau­ti­ful island or just go out­side and sit on a log. You will feel bet­ter, I promise. Touch base reg­u­lar­ly with the impor­tant peo­ple in your life. I do a week­ly email check-in with my sis­ters. We recap our week, share cre­ative projects, and also share what we are hap­py, sad, or frus­trat­ed about. If you don’t have a reg­u­lar per­son to check in with make a point to seek out a per­son or group to touch base with.

Pur­pose: Now a respect­ed pro­fes­sor and lec­tur­er, activist Angela Davis knew soli­tary con­fine­ment inside of a jail cell. Any place you are quar­an­tined on San Juan Island is going to be way bet­ter than that. In her Auto­bi­og­ra­phy Davis wrote of that time, “Get­ting total­ly involved in my work was a fun­da­men­tal con­di­tion of sur­vival and san­i­ty”.  Few of us are as bril­liant and ded­i­cat­ed as Angela Davis but if you’ve always thought that some­day you would chal­lenge your­self to build a ship in a bot­tle, study Opera, or learn to knit, that day might be here.

Psy­cho­log­i­cal flex­i­bil­i­ty: You’ve no doubt heard the Seren­i­ty Prayer often used by peo­ple in recov­ery. God grant me the seren­i­ty to accept the things I can­not change, courage to change the things I can, and the wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence.  These are words of wis­dom we can all ben­e­fit from.  As for keep­ing your mind sup­ple, I high­ly rec­om­mend the free Mind­ful­ness cours­es from Monash Uni­ver­si­ty in Aus­tralia as taught online through Future Learn. These are mind­ful­ness cours­es with a brain sci­ence approach, and as an added plus have guid­ed med­i­ta­tions with a sooth­ing Aus­tralian accent.

Hope: Find ways to bring pos­i­tiv­i­ty into your life. Gar­den­ing can be a hope­ful exer­cise. Even dur­ing a pan­dem­ic sweet­peas and toma­toes mirac­u­lous­ly grow right up out of the ground. One sure-fire way to kick start pos­i­tive ener­gy is by prac­tic­ing grat­i­tude. Try writ­ing down 3 things you are grate­ful for each day. Or sing. Not in a closed room with oth­er peo­ple of course but like Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, out in a field away from oth­er peo­ple with your arms spread wide.

We may be iso­lat­ed but we are not alone.
Link to: Island Senior: Cop­ing With Coro­n­avirus, How Is Your Men­tal Health?
Link to: Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health
Link to: Island Senior: For­est Bathing, an Anti­dote to Stress
Link to: Angela Davis Autobiography
Link to: Future Learn Online Courses

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One comment...

  1. Thanks for your arti­cle Peg­gy Sue—needed in this time–especially with the cas­es ris­ing on this island. I always enjoy your articles.

    Comment by Janet Wright on July 16, 2020 at 7:45 am

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