Editorial | The right mindset helps reduce ‘cabin fever’

Kaitlin Mikrut

In the days following the Illinois state government’s decision to effectuate a state-wide “stay-home” order, secluded students and faculty worry that isolation may beget an insanity similar to that exhibited in The Shining. With fellow Illini quickly shipped home and locked indoors for the foreseeable future during this turbulent time, it is not implausible that the quarantine would leave many feeling the effects of “cabin fever.”

To help students cope with mental health issues bred by confinement, the University has advertised a number of student support resources including coping strategies, exercise routines and relaxation regimens. 

Rapid adjustment may be difficult, but the University is correct in thinking there are ways to lower the temperature of “cabin fever” to find the dark cloud’s silver lining.

One might find that the absence of Champaign-Urbana’s traditional temptations, such as enjoying a night at a bar or spending money eating out with friends, may increase productivity. Less distractions may serve as a rare opportunity to tackle an endeavor one has continually put off or procrastinated on. Moreover, the convenience of having all classwork accessible from a single computer eliminates time spent in transit from place to place. 

All that extra time can be utilized effectively to learn a new hobby or develop healthy habits. While most are limited to the confines of their home, the alone time is a great opportunity to learn a new instrument, learn a new language, read a bunch of new books, cook, draw, write or paint. One’s growing cynicism might be stifled by a new trade to distract from all the dreadful news.

Similarly, the busy atmosphere of campus can be overwhelming and can devastate habits and crush dreams of adopting healthier lifestyles. One can view the time at home to develop a consistent routine built of healthier habits, such as forming a regular sleep schedule or eating healthier foods now that students are away from dining hall buffets and Green Street fast food.

These healthy developments not only serve as a way to kill the time in a productive manner but also will certainly improve one’s mood. Healthy eating and exercise drastically can enhance the mental health of an individual, which some may find desperately useful in the midst of a stress-inducing pandemic.

For exercise, one can find plenty of home workout videos scattered across the internet or explore the internet for routines to help break a sweat. Jogging outdoors is even an option so long as the recommended six feet distance is maintained between oneself and others enjoying the outdoors.

For those with company, now is the time to bond over a board game, puzzle or TV show binge. Many students may abhor the idea of living under their parent’s roof again, but indulge them in their excitement to share some quality time they would not have otherwise gotten.

Everyone feels tense and antsy. But breaking the rules puts the effectiveness of the entire quarantine in jeopardy. As University of Chicago epidemiologist Emily Landon said, “it’s really hard to feel like you’re saving the world watching Netflix from your couch. But if we do this right, nothing happens,” with nothing being the avoidance of potentially millions of Americans deaths.

The situation is, of course, frustrating for everyone affected. Empty shelves in supermarkets invoke the feeling that one is starring in an apocalypse film. But being restricted to home for a few weeks or even a month does not have to feel like serving a prison sentence when one employs the right mindset and is aware of the potential to creatively craft productivity and contentment.

If one has the right attitude, he or she can find that “cabin fever” actually can be quite cozy.