Beat WFH cabin fever by shifting your mindset and adding a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to your day and weekends.
It’s that part of the year again. The temps drop and daylight hours are short.

In fact, you don’t get much daylight exposure at all.

The bulk of your WFH days are spent sitting on your ass, staring at the computer screen, tapping the keyboard and clicking a mouse, plus the occasional conference call or meeting.

The lack of sunshine and being indoors all fucking day long can make you stir-crazy.

We all experience this every year. It’s “cabin fever” y’all.

Being holed-up in your house all day long for weeks at a time will drive you nuckin’ futs.

At least when you were commuting to and from the office, you had some variety to your day, despite the stressful commute on some days.

But now, with WFH, you’re in the same place and wearing the same clothes all day long. It’s like your own self-imposed home incarceration.

Yes, complaining about working from home is a first world problem. But, humans always want something better. Everybody needs some semblance of variety to maintain a bit of sanity.

Cabin fever is bad enough during normal winters but when you’re WFH, it’s so much more intense.

What The Fuck Is Cabin Fever Anyway?

The term “cabin fever” is a figure of speech that originated in North America sometime during the western expansion. Nobody knows for sure exactly who coined this idiom and when it became popular.

This term came about because of what typically happens during cold dark winters back in the frontier days. With shitty winter weather, people out in the wilderness were forced to stay inside their cabins all the time.

And these cabins were tiny and in the middle of nowhere. So, it really felt like you were trapped and isolated from civilization. These early frontier people were usually holed up in their cabin for weeks.

With all this isolation in a confined space, people would get batty, restless and irritable. In other words, they’d get cabin fever and have urging desires to go somewhere else, see other people or do something new.
Today, that same sentiment continues despite all of life’s modern conveniences.

You can get cabin fever anytime you’re confined in one spot and isolated from others for prolonged periods. However, it’s most prominent during the winters when you’re forced to stay inside all day long.

This gets compounded even further when you’re working from home during the winter. You’re cooped up inside your place for days at a time, maybe longer.

And, this isn’t good.

How Cabin Fever Screws Up Your Mental Health and Productivity

A lot of people think that cabin fever is a specific diagnosis, but it’s really not. Cabin fever is a combination of symptoms that typically surface in certain circumstances or situations.

The most common mental symptoms are feeling trapped, helpless, anxious, impatient, frustrated, claustrophobic and/or bored.

In many cases, these mental symptoms also trigger physiological issues like:
- Irregular eating habits
- Trouble falling asleep
- Trouble waking up
- Weight gain
- Napping often
- Tense muscles
- Headaches

Much of these mental and physiological symptoms are due in part to social isolation and the “winter blues” also known as seasonal affective disorder.

And, according to this study, when this combination goes on for prolonged periods of time, it increases mortality rate and cardiovascular risks.

When you’re working from home during the winter, you create the perfect storm for cabin fever to take over, which impacts your overall well-being and productivity.

When you’ve got cabin fever, you have decreased motivation to work, trouble focusing, weakened concentration, low mental stamina and sometimes even depression.

You know what it’s like.

You get antsy, bitchy, edgy and frustrated. You’re constantly unsatisfied and wanting to escape and yet, you don’t quite have the motivation to do anything about it.

The good news is that you can do a bunch of things to minimize the effects of cabin fever.

Tips For Dealing With Cabin Fever

You wanna know the main biggest thing for coping with cabin fever?

It’s all about your mindset and perspective. Period.

Our natural default programming is biased toward negativity. It’s a human trait that’s been ingrained in all of us since the prehistoric caveman days. Back then, having a negative mindset saved our asses by keeping us out of danger and away from life-threatening situations.

The problem is that we’re not cave-dwellers anymore and we don’t need to run away from saber-toothed tigers and killer dinosaurs. However, our minds are still programmed for negativity.

This is why you automatically take the negative perspective of being “stuck at home” instead of the positive perspective of being “safe at home”. See?

It’s hard to rewire default negativity.

However, if you consciously make an effort to see the good in things, you can slowly start reprogramming your mindset for positivity by starting new behaviors.

The key here is to focus on what you CAN do instead of thinking about all the things you CAN’T do. Shift your mindset to the positive and give some of the ideas a try.

1) Morning Walking Routine

When you’re WFH, you don’t have to deal with a stressful commute. For a lot of us, not having to do the daily grinding commute gives us more personal time back.

Take advantage of the extra time back with a bit more sleep but don’t overdo it. Carve out a slice of time for a brisk morning walk to help invigorate yourself and kickstart your day.

As long as the weather isn’t super shitty outside, bundle up and head outside for a walk around the neighborhood for some fresh brisk air. Maybe even take a walk to your fav local coffee shop for your first cup of the day.

2) Grab Lunch Outside

It’s way easy to just reheat some leftovers in the microwave or slap a simple sandwich together for lunch. It’s a great way to save money.

However, it’s always a good idea to mix things up a bit too.

Head out for lunch and grab some eats at your fav places. You already know exactly the place you want to go to and exactly the thing you want to eat. So, go for it.

Now, is the time to do it since you don’t normally have this luxury when you’re working from the office.

3) Take Mini Walking Breaks

Hey, we get it. Sometimes, when you get in the zone with work, you’re knocking out tasks left and right. You feel unstoppable.

In these situations, keep the momentum going, but when you do come up for air, get up from your chair and go for a short 5-minute walk outside. Plus, it’ll stave off dead butt syndrome.

In normal circumstances, as you’re grinding through the day, be sure to take a mini walking break when there’s a natural gap in your workday. This could be when you’ve completed editing the Powerpoint, finished a conference call, sent that detailed email, etc. You get the idea.

A fast walk around the block is one of several great WFH micro-exercises that you can integrate in your day.

Whenever there’s a natural break and before you transition to the next task or project, take a mini walk outside around the house or block. Or, if the weather is good, consider taking your next call as a walking conference call outside.

4) Setup Home Office By The Window

How your home office is set up can really make a difference in your productivity. A cluttered and disorganized desk adds stress and anxiety. An organized workspace with good lighting, proper ergonomics, ample space for working can boost your productivity.

If you can, declutter your desk and set it up by the window so that you have a view outside as you work. This not only helps to reduce digital eye strain but also provides you with much needed daylight exposure.

If you wanna really take it up to another level, then Feng Shui your desk for more goodness and bring in more positive vibes.

5) Disconnect From Work On Time

When you’re WFH, there isn’t a clear end of day marker or transition. It’s not like you’re having to get in your car and drive home from the office. And because of this, work can easily spill over into your evening.

You need to set up a daily WFH disconnection ritual so that you stop working and start relaxing when it’s time to clock-out.

Leaving yourself with some “me-time” is key. It’ll allow your mind to let go of all the bullshit from the day and just chillax.

6) Get “Hygge” With It 

If you’ve never heard of the term, “Hygge”, welcome to the club. Neither did we.

Hygge is pronounced “hyoo-guh” and it’s a Danish term that doesn’t have a direct translation to English. It’s more of a catch-all phrase that kinda represents all the feelings and emotions of being cozy and comfortable, particularly in the winter.

Think drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace while wearing warm fuzzy socks and wrapping yourself in a blanket and you got the idea.

Check out this short 5-minute clip about Hygge and you’ll “feel” what it’s all about.

VIDEO: Hygge - A Danish Ritual
YOUTUBE: DW Euromaxx
LENGTH: 4:59
Spending more time at home during the winter is prime-time Hygge season. So, see it as a special seasonal thing just like Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Break out the candles, hot cocoa, fuzzy slippers, snuggies and get Hygge with it.

7) Go For A Drive & Check Out New Places

Let’s be honest here.

You’re not holed up in a log cabin in Yakutia, Siberia. That place holds top honors as THE coldest inhabited place on earth. We’re talking winter temps that average -40F for months. That shit’s no joke.

You’re living in a far more reasonable climate and you most likely have a car. So, don’t be all “I feel trapped” when you’ve got a set of wheels.

Plan and go for a solo weekend getaway to satisfy your urges to escape. Or, if you’ve got a family, then think about going on a budget family staycation to get everyone out of the house.

And to maximize your weekend, try new things and explore new areas. Experiencing new things will not only bring out the kid in you but also makes your weekends feel longer.

8) Weekend Nature Walk Or Hike

Being out in nature is a proven method for reducing stress and boosting happiness. And every season offers its own menu of natural attractions and things to do outside.

No matter what season it is, hanging out with Mother Nature is one of the best ways to beat cabin fever hands down. There are incredible benefits of walking in nature that span across both mental and physical realms.

So, when you feel the onset of cabin fever creeping in, it’s time to get outside and be one with nature. And, it doesn’t have to be some crazy mountain trek. Go for a walk in and around your local park or a nearby hiking trail.

Keep it simple and enjoy all of nature’s beauty.

9) Dive Into A Hobby 

Everyone has that one hobby that monopolizes the bulk of their free time. We’re talking about the fun stuff you do in your personal time after finishing work and taking care of family tasks.

For some that are still raising young children, personal time is pretty much non-existent. Then, your only “hobby” is trying to get more sleep.

However, if you’ve got the time, getting into a fun hobby is a fantastic way to turn the tables on cabin fever. It can be the perfect antidote.

Some hobbies can get you so consumed that sometimes it turns into an obsessive compulsion. You can easily spend hours on the web reading about it, watching YouTube clips, posting on online forums and groups, buying shit online, etc.

This is the good kind of “going down the rabbit hole” thing.

10) Get Into A Routine

When you don’t have a set structure or routine to your day, you’ll feel aimless, lost, indecisive, etc. You definitely don’t want this because it’ll just make your cabin fever even worse.

To prevent this from happening, create a basic structure and routine to your day. It doesn’t need to be detailed down to the specific task or minute. It just needs to be like a framework.

For example, you could always start your day with an easy WFH morning routine. Then, dedicate the morning to emails and calls/meetings. Followed by a lunch break nooner. The rest of the afternoon could be for focused deep work on projects.

And finally, unplug from the matrix at the end of the day and digitally detox yourself with some chillaxing activities.

The more you follow a routine the better off you’ll be.

Beat Cabin Fever & Take Control Of Your Happiness

Working from home during the cold winter months can potentially keep you holed up in your house for longer than you’d like. This is when cabin fever can get you all riled up.

However, with a shift in your mindset and perspective, you can make the best of the situation and even make it something to look forward to.

Remember, you’re not “stuck at home” but rather “safe at home” with a roof over your head, food in the fridge, hot showers and all the bennies of the internet at your fingertips.

Plus, don’t forget, you’ve got other options outside of the house too.

It’s time to switch gears. There are 101 reasons to smile right now, even as you’re reading this.

Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you. Take control and turn things around for the better. It’s all a part of keeping a positive attitude when life seems to suck.

Embrace the season, get outside and explore then come back and get all Hygge’ed up in the cozy comfort of your home.

Feel Better,

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