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Homebodies Have Cabin Fever Too: Here’s why – and what you can do.

I talk a lot about haven and how you can create your own haven at home. Home is usually the place we run to when we’re overwhelmed, anxious, and just need a break.

 

But what happens when home adds to your anxiety? In this uncertain time, many of us are tucked away in our homes trying to live and work our normal lives. If you’re an Introvert (INFJ, here), this might be the life you dreamed of: minimal social contact with strangers, working from the comfort of your own space, skipping the daily commute…

 

But now that you’re actually here, you find yourself going a little stir-crazy. You’re hyper-sensitive, you’re arguing with loved ones, your sleeping habits are all over the place, and you’re probably overeating (or over-drinking.) I feel ya. I’ve been working from home for the better part of 10 years but this feels different.

 

My routine is the same. My environment and lifestyle is, I admit, minimally altered. So what’s different? Why are we struggling? Why are we ansty, bored, angry, weepy, withdrawn, and claustrophobic? Why is my heart racing and why do I feel like I need to run all the miles??

The amygdala's response is triggered by emotions like fear, anxiety, and anger.

It’s all in your head.

 

No, really. Your amygdala is the bit of your brain that reports for duty when we are frightened. It’s responsible for the flight-or-fight response you often hear about in times of stress. It’s the reason our primitive selves were pumped full of adrenaline when coming face to face with a wild animal.

 

It is not capable of logical thought. It has 2 modes: OFF and “OMG, RUUUUUN!” And once it’s on, it prepares you to either fight the threat or get away from it as fast as you can. There is no in between. There are no various levels of threat. All danger is mortal danger.

Perceived Threats

 

So now that you know the amygdala is trying to protect you from threats, you can begin to understand why you are suddenly feeling like you are in a battleground 24/7. Because coronavirus is a threat, our brain is preparing us to flee when what we really need to do for protection is stay in place.

 

This goes against our most basic design. What do you mean stand here with the tiger?? So instead of running away we are lashing out, feeling cornered, and literally not thinking rationally. There is nothing about the primitive brain that is rational.

What To Do

 

  1. Breathe: Breathe slowly in through your mouth and out through your nose. Controlling your breath tells your body that you are safe. Try one of these breathing techniques.
  2. Talk: Get on the phone with a trusted friend. Don’t try to “fix” anything, just release some frustration… and just listen if you get the same kind of call.
  3. Turn off the news and social media: Emotions are flying. Set your boundaries and be careful about what you consume.
  4. Be mindful of your coping mechanisms: Overeating, drinking excessive alcohol, watching the daily White House briefing (*ahem*), or scrolling madly through social media will keep you in “OMG RUUUUUUN!” mode.
  5. Be gentle. Be kind to yourself and others. read an uplifting book, check in on your neighbors (by phone), leave inspiring messages in chalk in your driveway.

 

We got this.

Additional resources:

Learn more about how your brain works here.

 

This is an anxious time. Give yourself permission to slow down and take advantage of your downtime. Pull out your Relief Kit as often as you need to.

 

Try an app. Apps like Calm and Shine can lead you through occasional bouts of anxiety and depression. Shine has a special section devoted to Coronavirus fears.

 

Seek help. If you feel your anxiety or depression is out of your control, seek professional help immediately. Text 741741 to talk with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line—it’s free, confidential, and available all hours.

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