Remember Jack Nicholson in Stephen King’s movie “The Shining”? Hollywood has dramatized cabin fever but the condition is very real. However, it’s not a disease as its name suggests. Cabin fever is an extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time. It affects everyone differently and in most extreme cases can drive people to madness. There is little documented evidence but it is speculated that people who are already afflicted with a mental instabilities are most dramatically impacted.
In areas of the world where snow piles up all winter long, driving people indoors, cabin fever is a real issue. During the winter season when daylight is short or nonexistent, less light passes through the eyes which inhibits the release of serotonin which is a happiness hormone because it contributes to the feelings of well being. When it is not released in sufficient amounts, depressive symptoms begin to occur.
How do you identify cabin fever? The symptoms of the fever can include:
Feelings of sadness and depression
Difficulty waking up in the morning
Distrusting the people you are with
How can you avoid cabin fever?
Stay active. Exercise or use the time to learn a new skill.
Avoid passive activities such as TV and surfing the internet. The brain needs more physically stimulating activities.
Make your environment cheery. Use bright colors to decorate or light aromatic candles or decorate a Christmas tree to promote that feel good feeling.
Entertain guests. People need person to person stimulation.
Grow indoor plants. An Australian study revealed that when plants were added in people’s offices, they experienced, on average, a 37% reduction in tension and anxiety, 58% reduction in depression, and 38% reduction in fatigue.
Eat good mood food. Certain foods help uplift your spirits. Our bodies convert amino acids and tryptophan into serotonin so eat foods with high levels of these. Turkey, sunflower seeds, lobster, asparagus and pineapple are just a few.
Just remember, “all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”