WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB
Countering Cabin Fever
There are a lot of stories floating around the web on the topic of cabin fever. The Boston Herald has a nice one about how best to work from home while also living with a partner or roommates. One big tip: be sound-conscious! Now might not be the time to crank up the Motorhead or dig into that giant bowl of nachos while your dear ones are on deadline.
Yahoo has one about how to cut and color your hair. That’s one I probably won’t be writing, as I’m firmly in the Grizzly Adams aesthetic camp when it comes to pandemics. But I realize that me and my pet bear are in the minority.
Kidding aside, cabin fever is real, and the effects it can have on people are dramatic. Healthline provides a few additional coping tips here. It even lists a symptom guide. I’ve cleaned out my garage and turned it into a makeshift escape pod — makes a huge difference when I need to clear my head. There are also sorts of other ways to leave the walls behind and stage a momentary flight to freedom. I’ve noticed a few neighbors have built fire pits and are occasionally having what looks like inviting s’mores sessions under starlight. I’m tempted to join them, and maybe I’ll invite myself over after we get the safe signal.
The Known Unknowns
Siobhan Roberts at the New York Times offers an in-depth look at what the data shows on how people face uncertainty. The piece examines numerous studies on public response to ambivalence and unpredictability. The takeaway? People are more resilient than we often think, and transparency and honesty might be the best policy, even in times of crisis.
Emi Boscamp, writing on Today.com, discusses how her family uses video conferencing while preparing meals to maintain a sense of harmony and connectedness. It’s a sweet story, and good food writing to boot. As my own long-suffering family know, I prefer to chop alone and rigidly enforce a “no one in the kitchen when dada’s cooking policy.” (This only serves to turn the oven into a giant toddler magnet.) So while I might not be bringing the laptop while I prep my mise en place, I’m inspired to try some of the dishes Boscamp mentions. Chicken katsu, anyone?
Also on Today.com, Stephanie Mansour gives you a short workout to help reduce ailments that plague sedentary laborers: stiff necks, shoulders and back. The workout only takes a few minutes.
In a related workout story, Casey Gueren offers some advice about how to make home workouts fun. Gueren is a New Yorker and has had to make some serious adjustments to her routine. Read her thoughts here.
And finally, here’s something our spring intern Kristin Cole wrote about her own experiences during the pandemic. Cole is a very talented up-and-coming writer and is currently studying at Merrimack College. She also compiled this week’s Wellness Wednesday links.
I left the Merrimack College parking lot on March 6, assuming that I would be back in a week. While I had no legitimate vacation planned, spring break would come as a huge relief after the previous week of midterms. But what my peers and I were not expecting was that this would be an abrupt end to our semester (in-person, at least.)
Frightening news of the coronavirus pandemic in the Merrimack Valley seemed to spread as rapidly as, well, the virus itself. One day we were social distancing, the next schools were closing, then essential businesses and after that we were all advised to stay at home. As a young woman who has battled chronic anxiety since childhood, this sudden lifestyle change has been a shock to the system.
I have dealt with my anxiety in almost every way except medication. Movement always seemed to be a cure for my frantic thoughts, so over the years I have developed an extremely active lifestyle, one that is threatened by this overwhelming time. I have grown to love a busy schedule: juggling work, commuting to class, extracurricular clubs, exercising, visiting family and relaxing with friends. It seems overwhelming, but it has become a coping mechanism that keeps me both happy and motivated.
So, what happens when all of that is canceled? School, clubs, work, even time with friends have all faced the chopping block as the effects of this virus increase. It is no doubt that these times can be difficult for everyone, whether they struggle with a mental illness or not. Without a clear end in sight, what is there to do but fret and sterilize every corner of our living space?
Here are some of the things that I have been doing to keep my sanity, with the hopes that it can help others maintain theirs, or at least try something new. Hang in there everyone, and remember, six feet!
- Get dressed every day. It is easy to sit around in your pajamas but getting up and actually putting fresh clothes on (just a new outfit, no need to be fancy!) will help you start the day with a new perspective.
- Start a new routine. Looking to pick up a good habit? Now is the perfect time. I have started using a face scrub every morning, which is not only good for the skin and wakes you up. Implementing it into my routine gives me something to look forward to each morning.
- Get outside! Walk, run, hike, jump, skip. Fresh air is one of the best things for your mental health. Take a break from working, cleaning or homework. If you have pets, bring them along, too!
- With a national emergency occurring, most fitness centers have closed. But thanks to the internet, there are thousands of workout videos available electronically to follow. A simple search on YouTube can bring a variety of classes, from yoga to Zumba, straight to your living room.
- Numerous scientific studies have confirmed many benefits of meditation, from reduced stress relief to enhanced emotional health, and it only needs to be done for a few minutes a day. iPhone apps such as Calm and Headspace offer short meditations for people of all levels.
- Limit the social media … Being stuck inside can lead us to scroll endlessly through our social media feeds. Trade the screen for a new book or magazine.
- … but not the social contact. Social distancing can be difficult, but thanks to technology, there are many ways to communicate with friends. Facetime, Zoom, and Google Hangouts are great ways to see friends without being physically with them.