Cabin Fever Remedies
Cabin fever, am I right?
Like many, I’m feeling quite restless from staring at a screen for approximately 30 hours a day since the COVID-19 outbreak began in New Jersey. Some experts are referring to the unease as quarantine fatigue. Perhaps you started with plenty of ideas on how to pass the time when quarantine began. Maybe you cleaned out your garage, cooked more banana bread than you could eat, or even attempted to do Tik Tok for the first time (don’t worry; your secret is safe with me). Now that you’re running out of fun activities to try, your brain is starting to crave dopamine hits, or “feel good” chemicals.
Here are a few simple, inexpensive activities you can do to keep your brain and body healthy while we social distance:
About 200 years ago, 90% of humans lived in agricultural societies that only sat for 3-5 hours a day to rest while U.S. Americans sit roughly 13-15 hours a day! I have a feeling those numbers have increased during the coronavirus era. Many of us have heard that movement is essential for keeping us healthy and boosting the immune system, but did you know that movement also decreases our mental stress? That’s right, and you don’t even need a gym!
One way to incorporate more movement into your routine is by walking. I go for walks in the morning when there are fewer people on the streets, and I always cross the road when someone is walking my way to maintain at least 6 feet of distance, according to CDC guidelines. I also recommend stopping to take pictures of nature around your neighborhood as I do (featuring my father):
If you decide to take a nature break at a state or country park, please refer to the guidelines put in place to keep us safe. Please note that Duke Farms is a private, nonprofit foundation and is not included in the reopening of State and County managed parks.
If you’re not down for walks right now (hello, pollen), do not fret! You can still maintain an active lifestyle in your home. There are thousands of free online exercise videos on YouTube, and many companies are offering free premium workouts on their apps that do not require any equipment. If all else fails, there’s always the good old fashion walking in place!
If you’re working from home, biomechanist Katy Bowman shares helpful tips on how to make your living space as movement-rich as possible.
I know we all miss nature at Duke Farms, but you can bring nature to your backyard! If you don’t have a garden at home yet, it’s the perfect time to start. Duke Farms Community Garden Coordinator, Melissa Almendinger, does a fantastic job at teaching us about vegetable seed starting and how to start a vegetable garden. The Native Plant Society has an extensive directory for native plant nurseries in New Jersey!
I purchased a bird feeder last week for the first time, and it instantly changed the “wing traffic” in my backyard. I counted ten birds hanging out in my yard this morning, and it was absolutely exhilarating. I took notes about bird watching from Duke Farms Educators, Abby Schmid, and Joanne Vogel! You can also observe nature in your home through live cams like the one at Cornell Lab FeederWatch.
Don’t forget to visit Duke Farms’ new Distance Learning portal for more ideas on how to how to maintain and cultivate a connection to nature during social distancing times.
Insomnia and “coronavirus dreams” have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. I thought I was the only one having wild dreams until I heard people sharing odd dreams on the radio the other day. It turns out many others are also experiencing stressful nights due to increased anxiety. Healthline provides 30 grounding techniques to reduce anxiety and quiet distressful thoughts.
Journaling is excellent for stress management and a tool that helps us make sense of our busy thoughts and worries. Abby Schmid shares a guide on how to start journaling in nature!
My favorite tip is to catch the sunrise before the kiddos wake up to feel the first few rays of sunshine glance through the horizon with a hot cup of coffee or tea in hand. It’s the simple things.
Whatever it may be, keeping our bodies moving and exploring new tools at our disposal will keep excitement and healthy engagement alive. It’s easy to feel restless and anxious to go back to our “normal lives,” but please know that your efforts to remain at home and social distance are saving millions of lives at this very moment. You are part of the solution to a complex, global problem.
I am a firm believer that there is more hope and good in the world than what our eyes can see right now, and each of us is an agent of change for our present and future generations. Human ingenuity and compassion will always get us to the other side, so keep yearning and working toward building a better world, one quarantine day at a time.
Alejandra Murillo is a former Duke Farms educator. She worked in the education department for 2.5 years, teaching visitors of all ages about environmental conservation and sustainability. Alejandra currently works at Rutgers University and is getting her master’s in public health nutrition. She aspires to help transform the U.S. food system in a way that will mitigate the effects of climate change and provide equitable access to healthy food in underserved communities.