How to Treat Cabin Fever

Retired couple running through the snow

Cabin Fever has become a new source of stress. It is easy to sit around nibbling on your favorite treat, watching TV, and doing puzzles. But enough is enough; your body is craving some endorphins as well as chocolates. What is an endorphin? You can’t find it on the Candy Aisle at Kroger or at Dinstuhl’s. Endorphins are the “feel-good” chemicals released by the brain during physical activity that help improve mood, energy levels and even sleep. If you have been inactive since the start of the Covid lockdown, here are some ideas to help you get moving again:

  1. Check with your doctor first.
  2. Start monitoring from the start; Keep a journal, mark your calendar, or use an activity tracker on your phone or Fitbit. Every little step counts.
  3. Start slow. Begin with a warm-up and gentle stretch. Practice sitting and standing using a sturdy chair. Keep your feet on the floor (no bouncing). This strengthens the quadriceps muscles which work together to help you stand, walk, and move around.
  4. Choose the best exercises for you. A balanced exercise routine should include:
    • Aerobics: walking, or water aerobics or water walking if you have pain in joints
    • Strength Exercise: freehand weights and exercise equipment in the Oasis
    • Balance: Yoga and SitnStand classes on Channel 10.
  5. Here are some tips to create the right routine:
    • Alternate days between aerobic and strength exercises.
    • Find activities you enjoy. For example: walking, bicycling, dancing or yoga or the pool. Try walking indoors for 10-15 minutes or outside when the weather is good. Gradually add time and increase intensity with a goal of 30 minutes a day for 5 days or 150 minutes weekly.
    • Exercise is more fun with a friend and helps you stay committed. When someone is counting on you to walk with them, you are motivated to make the extra effort. Often when left on our own, it’s easy to let our exercise plans slide.
    • Strength train using free weights or resistance bands, slowly add weight as you’re able to do more repetitions. Check with Mary in the Oasis for pointers.
    • Work on balance every day. Simply stand at your kitchen counter on one foot and then the other helps improve balance. Yoga is a good choice for people who want to improve balance and flexibility.
  6. Check your progress to see if you are working out effectively. Can you carry a conversation when your heart rate is up without gasping for air? A little soreness in the first 24 hours is normal but if it lasts longer, you may have overdone it. This is your program, if you are having difficulty, don’t force it or cause yourself pain. Just do as much as you can comfortably.
  7. Remember to hydrate by keeping a bottle of water nearby.
  8. Finish your exercise time with a gentle stretch.

Whatever you plan, Remember the first step is always the hardest. Go ahead, take it. Exercise will break that cabin fever.