Warning. The treatments for cabin fever enumerated herein are not scientifically-proven or based on medical journals. However, I can attest that these treatments for cabin fever are fool-proof for a middle class working mommy like me who has spent half of a lifetime outside of the house and then suddenly stuck at home.
“Do you have cabin fever Ma?”
It was on the second week of lockdown when my 16 year old son asked me this. He was obviously referring to my restlessness, non-stop nagging, and growing impatience with them. Even my husband was getting irritated with my behavior. After much thought, I finally admitted to myself that, yes, I have cabin fever.
For a full-time working mother whose job is in public relations, being confined at home is pure punishment. In fact, this lockdown period is the longest time that I stayed at home. Years back, I was already at the mall two weeks after giving birth. I am always teased that “May nunal kasi ‘yan sa paa” because I always have to go outside.
Six weeks in quarantine with a few more weeks to go, how have I been coping with my cabin fever?
There is no one cure for cabin fever. It is a combination of several activities to keep your anxiety at bay. Be ready to counter fights with your husband and kids because they are part of the treatment process.
Now, let me count the ways to cure cabin fever.
1. Home quarantine projects.
I love Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects that involve decorating or making simple repairs at home because they cost less, are fun and fulfilling. But the most that I could do during the lockdown is a painting job – not painting illustrations but painting walls. It was good that there were some small hardware stores open near my subdivision.
So with my two boys, we painted our bedroom, the boys’ bedroom, grilling area, and our half-court basketball area. The project cost was cheap. I only spent for half a gallon of white paint (P500), two shades of tinting color (@P125 each), roller brush (P75), a 2×2 paint brush (P50), paint thinner at (P65), and sand paper (P25). For about P1,000, I was able to do several painting jobs at home.
I knew that we will be spending a lot of time outside so I asked my hubby to hang bulbs on a string to light our small garden. Also, after several days of cleaning the house, I found old decorations which I re-arranged for the living room.
Here are some of the Before/After photos of my home quarantine projects.
2. Daily exercise.
To combat sleeplessness due to limited physical activity during daytime, I attend two virtual dance classes. Dance fitness class on Facebook with Bernard Polis on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 5:30-6:30pm and Zumba sessions via Twitch platform with Zin James Dalupe on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 10:00-11:00am. In case you are interested to attend these sessions, post a comment below so I can ask the instructors to invite you to these dance classes.
3. Korean dramas.
If you want a quick escape from the stress of watching daily news due to COVID-19, watch KDramas on Netflix or ViU. Prepare to be transported to another world with beautiful people and delicious food. KDramas are feel-good because they have a consistent storyline – love for family, honor and respect for the elderly. For starters, look for Crash Landing on You, Descendants of the Sun, Chocolate, and Wok of Love.
4. Online chat with friends.
Bi-weekly dates with my girlfriends of more than 25 years have been replaced with virtual chats coupled with lots of laughter and peppered with online hugs and kisses. One of our friends live alone so we make sure we keep in touch everyday.
5. Read, write, read.
During my teens, I was hooked in reading pocketbooks like Mills and Boon, Silhouette and Harlequin Romance which were part of my mom’s collection. She was an editor of a book publication house so me and my brother started writing professionally in high school for a news magazine about Filipino values. My love for books remain but with full-time work, time for reading has been minimal. This lockdown reunited me with my first love, reading. My fiction collection include books by Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Eric Segal and Sophie Kinsella. So in between writing technical proposals, pitching to clients, or giving directions for PR stunts which are all online for now, I manage to squeeze some reading time. This online column is also a remedy for my cabin fever.
There are days that my cabin fever hits the hardest that I just give in and go out whether it be a quick trip to the grocery or drugstore or just to drive around inside our village. Under the new normal where movement is very limited because the risk of COVID-19 transmission is still high, my battle with cabin fever is here to stay.