5 ways to prevent cabin fever when working remotely

Working from home is the new norm.

What formerly caused eyebrows to rise and stir up feelings of envy has now become not only a benefit, but an expected part of work.

People are working from home more than ever. In fact, research shows that remote work has grown by 159 percent from 2005 to 2017.

Companies and employees alike are increasingly recognizing the benefits of working remotely.

Remote workers report being more satisfied, less stressed, and feeling healthier than the average worker.

When you work within an environment of your own choosing, it’s understandable that you feel happier during the day.

But just as there are benefits, there are drawbacks.

The drawbacks of working from home

There can be distractions that come with working outside the office. Family members can cause noise or want to interact while you’re trying to focus. Entertainment devices nearby entice you to watch TV instead of work.

Then there’s the blur between work life and home life. Your mind isn’t fully on work while you’re working, but it isn’t completely relaxed after hours in the evenings either. When both components of your life are under one roof, it’s hard to separate the two.

Some people report missing the camaraderie of interacting with colleagues and co-workers in person. Gone are the water cooler chats when you happen to take a break with someone you normally see on a daily basis.

And then there can be some serious downsides to your mental well-being. You might feel stir-crazy from being cooped up for long periods of time. You can also experience a sense of isolation and even depression from staying indoors and not heading out during the day. This phenomenon is often referred to as cabin fever.

Cabin fever is very real, regardless of the weather outside or the comfort of your surroundings. After being confined for a long time indoors, you can feel stressed, sad, and unmotivated. These feelings affect you physically through poor hygiene and weight changes.

How to stave off cabin fever when working remotely

Since remote work isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s important to know how to manage cabin fever symptoms. When you do, you can feel productive, happy, and healthy, no matter where you’re working.

Here are five strategies to keeping cabin fever away when you’re working from home:

1. Plan your day out

The thought of being in a submarine for months can seem horrifying to many people. Living in cramped quarters, spending 24/7 with your coworkers, and a lack of outdoors can seem like the ultimate recipe for cabin fever.

Surprisingly, actual submariners have something different to say about the experience.

When crew members were asked whether they get cabin fever, they said that they were too busy working on tasks to dwell on their circumstances. They knew they had a mission to do, which kept them focused on both their work and well-being.

When you’re in the same place for long periods of time, it’s important to plan your day out to keep those stir-crazy feelings at bay. When you have a schedule, you create a structure to your day. You have a reason to get out of bed and a feeling of purpose (a Productivity Planner can help you prioritize needs to be done).

2. Set aside time to exercise

When you’re working at your computer, it’s easy to get stuck at your desk. But sitting for too long can be detrimental to your health.

You increase your likelihood of obesity, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and a whole slew of health issues.

You might not notice it right away, but those hours spent sitting each day in the same position can leave you feeling worn by the end of the week. When you plan out your day, be sure to budget some time to move around. Otherwise, it’s easy to let the day slip by without getting out of your seat.

Take a walk around your home. Do chores standing up. Getting a least half an hour of exercise daily is important to keeping you alert, strengthening your muscles, and improving your heart and cardio.

3. Designate personal space for yourself

Having your own space is especially relevant if you live with other people.

Like porcupines crammed together, sharing the same space for too long with nowhere to go can be irritating and uncomfortable. Setting up boundaries is healthy not only for yourself, but for better relationships with the people around you.

When you have a space of your own, you create a space of freedom for yourself. You’re able to do what you want and recharge your energy levels. Working in quiet, separate spot away from distractions helps you focus and finish tasks faster.

4. Get some sun

Just because you don’t have to go anywhere doesn’t mean you should be cooped up indoors all day. Going outside at least once a day will help you feel much better. It all comes down to your body’s physiological response to sunlight.

Exposure to sunlight boosts a hormone in your brain called serotonin. Serotonin boosts your mood, which helps you function better during the day. Conversely, a lack of sunlight leads to a drop in serotonin, which leads to feelings of sadness and gloom.

The effect of serotonin explains why people feel down in the wintertime, due to a lack of sunlight and shorter days.

So go out outside for a walk, sit near a window, anything to give yourself some light exposure. Even if you live someplace cloudy, getting fresh air will help you feel energized and positive afterward.

5. Connect with others virtually

With all the technology available, you can connect with people regardless of where you are. Get in touch with someone and chat about your day. It can be a work colleague, friend, or family member.

When you talk to someone regularly, it lets you know you’re not alone. You also get a different perspective of things are outside your household. It especially helps if the person is in a similar situation, such as in their work or family life, so you can help one another get through challenges and come up with solutions together.

A different way of working

Even with all its perks, working remotely comes with downsides and new challenges that aren’t there when you work in the same room as everyone else.

Feelings of isolation, lethargy, and aimlessness can easily crop up. In short, when the reins are loosened, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

At the same time, a loosening of the reins also provides grounds for opportunity. An opportunity to evaluate your priorities. An opportunity to reinvent your daily habits. An opportunity to change your lifestyle, and ultimately, yourself.

Recommended Reading:

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – Does it make sense to move work from the office into the home? In this book, the authors discuss why remote work has more advantages than drawbacks, along with ideas on how to work effectively outside the office while being a top performer.