One of the biggest caveats of remote work is spending more time indoors - and while it may not sound serious at first, cabin fever is a real thing that remote workers have to deal with and can have a very serious impact on their well-being.
Working by yourself for extended amounts of time can be isolating, and even lead to burnout that can have more serious effects on your mental health. There is really an onus on the remote worker to care for themselves, just as much as they care about being productive and doing well at their jobs. As for being at home for extended periods of time, such as now when a large portion of the world is in lockdown due to COVID-19, it is totally normal to experience some degree of cabin fever. Take solace in the fact that you are not alone!
How do you know if you have cabin fever? Here are a few of the most common symptoms (don't WebMD it, spare yourself the anxiety of whatever you will find!)
1. Having trouble concentrating, feeling restless
2. Lethargy, feeling down or depressed
3. Decreased motivation
4. Shorter fuse, get frustrated easily
If you find yourself feeling any of the above, the chances are good that you need a change of perspective, especially now that it is not as easy to change your location. Luckily researchers have been studying cabin fever for a long time, and have found useful tips and tricks that are instrumental in keeping your mental health sound during this time.
If you're starting to feel a little stir-crazy, here are some ways to pause and hit the refresh button:
1. Absorb some sun
We know you might not be able to go outside right now, but hear us out: wherever you have a little spot of sun, whether it be on a balcony or through a window, make use of it! Feeling the sun on your skin will go a long way in improving your mood. Limited exposure to the sun can boost your serotonin levels, but be careful not to burn or do damage to your skin. Take just a few minutes of sun and remember that old adage about too much of a good thing...
2. Close the fridge
We're guilty of this one too - as soon as you get bored, it's time for the snack machine to pull in. Snacking might make you feel better temporarily, but if you aren't snacking on something healthy, you'll ultimately end up feeling more tired and guilty. Try to stick to your normal, non-lockdown mealtimes and if you can't live without snacking, try to reach for fruits or veggies and water instead of candy, fried food or sodas. Your body will thank you!
3. Switch off when you can
When you are working from home it can be hard to switch off. After all, your office is in your pocket - that phone constantly buzzing with Slack notifications at night can work on your nerves and make you feel the need to respond immediately. We're here to tell you it's ok; unless something is really urgent, it's ok to wait until the next morning to respond. Try not to make a habit of working after-hours or during the night unless your job calls for it as this is bound to burn you out faster. Set healthy work hours and keep to them as much as you can.
4. Get creative
At Desk To Remote, we are big fans of using something creative as an outlet for stress. Our team are fans of getting our hands dirty with some art, listening to some music or doing anything that can act as an outlet for stress and get the juices flowing. By doing something creative you also encourage your brain to learn new ways of problem-solving.
Mindful meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you how to slow your thoughts and anxiety. The majority of these meditation techniques include slow breathing, being aware of your body and your thoughts and muscle relaxation. Meditation is definitely something that needs practice, but our team loves the Calm app as an easy way to get started.
Ultimately, while you may experience the symptoms of cabin fever, it's important to know that it won't be forever and you can use the activities listed above to break out of that mindset. Don't be afraid to lean on family or friends either - set up a video call with a loved one and have a good catch-up. It will do wonders for your spirit.
From getting some sun to exercising and pursuing something creative, there are many ways people entertain themselves when stuck indoors and going a little stir-crazy. Which is your favorite?