Last week brought with it the onset of cabin fever, and Thursday evening went a bit like this:
“When was the last time I left the house?” I started to tremble as the thought rushed through my mind.
“I’ve dropped and picked up Elsie from school, does that count?”
“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t because you don’t get out of the car.”
“Have I been to the grocery store?”
“I can’t even remember.”
“Do you realize you’re talking to yourself right now?”
My brain started to jitter, my eyes felt like they were sinking back into my head. Panic set in, along with the sudden urge to run down the street naked into the wind with my hair loosely flowing behind me. Then I remembered I don’t live on a farm surrounded by open lavender fields, and in fact live in a family friendly city neighborhood. Nudity was probably not an option, plus it’s January. However, if you’ve forgotten what’s outside your door, it’s probably time you left and found out. Time for a personal intervention.
What is Cabin Fever?
Cabin fever is not a formally diagnosed condition, and instead is associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) because it happens during the winter when people become housebound by the weather. Whoever came up with this linear connection has unlikely spent time as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). It’s even in the job title, they might as well rename us cabin-fever-moms (CFM). I assure you this condition can occur at anytime of year, and it’s severity is directional proportional to the number of young children you have.
WebMD claims cabin fever will make you:
It’s basically a mental hangover that even fried food can’t cure. To be honest I had been feeling it all week, my children’s whining has been extraordinarily grating, and I even blogged less than usual. I’ve been crazy tired, yet waking in the middle of the night with to-do lists on auto-repeat. So… what’s the plan this week?
5 Methods to Combat a Case of the Crazies
On Saturday we booked a day sitter from 2-8pm. We have never done this before as we usually do date nights, not days. How novel… I went window shopping without the double stroller. It was actually pretty weird to be out and about without the babies. I soon realized that the only reason everyone is so kind and friendly is because they have love eyes for the Twinkies. In reality the general public don’t hold doors open, and don’t smile at each other – I’ve had rose tinted glasses on for the past 14-months. Still, I highly recommend it, you can even do happy hour and get home early enough to sleep it off.
The obvious remedy for cabin fever is to leave the house as we did, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Here are some suggestions of how to pick up the mood while you’re stuck in mom jail:
Lay off the Carbs
‘Lean proteins high in omega-3 fatty acids have been repeatedly linked to improved moods, and many of these foods—like lean beef and wild salmon—are also high in B12 and vitamin D, nutrients important for emotional regulation.’ Brian Krans, Healthline.com
Carbs can make you feel bloated and sluggish, not very conducive to boosting your motivation. I’m not suggesting you go full Atkins diet, but try a meal a day without carbs, it’s surprisingly energizing and encourages you to eat more fruit and vegetables.
Look After your Gut
‘Many fail to realize that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood, and behavior. Your gut actually produces more mood-regulating serotonin than your brain does.’ Dr Mercola, mercola.com.
Dr Marcela explains the best way to look after your gut is to eat fermented foods. Unfortunately I don’t think he means drink more beer, he actually means foods such as yogurt, soy sauce, kimchi and sauerkraut. If you’re wondering ‘what am I supposed to do with that lot?’, take a look at 25 Ways to Use Sauerkraut… wow, how much sauerkraut can one person eat?
Refined sugars can not only negatively affect the brain, they also promote the growth of bad bacteria in the gut. So it’s less ice cream and more fermented veg I’m afraid. If that’s not enough to make you want to leave the house to binge at the mall food court I don’t know what will.
I spent an hour in the backyard yesterday, despite the drizzly weather. Although I was still in the vicinity of the house, I got some fresh air, some exercise and a change of scenery. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re 3-feet deep in snow right now, but even if there’s a chill in the air, wrap up and have a tinker outside. The kiddos can join, little ones love weeding!
According to Mayo Clinic, exercise improves mood and helps with depression by:
- Releasing feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids)
- Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
- Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
If you’re not the jogging stroller type, I would highly recommend a workout video. Kids love to bounce around and join in, and watching them doing warm-up stretches alone is enough to bring a smile to your face. It’s a win-win because laughter produces endorphins and lowers the stress hormone cortisol.
It’s extremely difficult to reduce stress when you are engulfed by children all day. As a working Mom of one child, I used to imagine the day of a SAHM filled with finger painting, reading books and long cuddles. In reality, children are surprisingly cranky, and a lot of the day is spent dealing with tantrums, bumped heads and fumbling around the cupboard to find alternatives to the lunch they’ve just thrown on the floor. They’re really very anti-social… can you imagine if adults behaved like-one year-olds do? We’d be arrested before the day was out.
Having said that, we need to find moments to relax, even if they are short. If your littles are young enough to still have naptime, make the time to sit quietly, read a book, drink tea, and all those wondrous things. If not, try your best to plan and assign a time when the children are likely to be chirpy (the boys are in the best mood immediately after breakfast) and use the opportunity to take some mom time out, even if you have to use Kids Netflix to babysit. I’m talking to myself as well as you, I am terrible at this and know it would help.
If daytime relaxation doesn’t get a look in, try some bedtime relaxation exercises to help switch off at the end of the day. I’m going to try the ‘The Relaxing Staircase Technique’ found at Mind Body Green this week.
Cabin fever intervention now in motion, I’m hoping for a more productive happy week. Are you feeling a case of the crazies? Do let me know if you have any genius remedies!