Do you know what happens when you google “how to deal with cabin fever”? You find articles telling you to go outside, see your family, go out with your friends, connect with nature, or redecorate your home. You have to wonder, don’t you, would anyone able to do these things be googling for remedies to cabin fever?

In reality, no one needs the “22 Amazing Hacks for Dealing With Cabin Fever.” Just one that works would do.

Cabin fever is different for everyone. For me, it’s like having my energy levels tied to an oscillator. On Tuesday, I had the perfect day. I plowed through my list of to-dos like a workhorse, I exercised, I wrote a lot, I finished a book that I kept putting off for later, and felt as if I could move mountains. Nice, I thought to myself, as I went to bed, this kind of fever I can live with. But when I woke up in the morning, I felt like a bungled pancake, you know, the one that goes straight to the trash.

Nothing made any sense, the words crowded at the back of my skull, refusing to leave, and my to-do list stared back at me, all judgemental.

Like I said, the symptoms are different for everybody. They include but are not limited to, restlessness, bouts of depression, food cravings, loss of patience, lack of motivation, periods of lethargy and other such similarly cheerful states of mind.

Do you know what helped me? Writing. With pen and paper. Simple as that.

Writing in longhand takes longer than typing things out on a keyboard, but when you have a problem to solve, that’s a good thing; longhand helps you settle into a nice, steady kind of mental rhythm that’s hard to achieve on a computer. That, in turn, helps you understand the problems bothering you at the moment.

No one thinks in fully formed, elaborate sentences. Our thoughts are made of fluff; disjointed chunks of connotations and fleeting impressions, like a flutter of scared butterflies inside our skull.

Writing things down, I found, nudges my brain to give these bits of fluff more substance.

In the times before the internet, people used to write journals. Seeing how some of those ended up in bookstores, it is easy to believe journals were written for posterity, or for other people to read, much like our social media feeds, but that generally wasn’t the case. The practice of journaling had more to do with keeping your memories in order and giving yourself the time necessary to reflect and sift through the noise. A perfectly natural human need to make sense of the story of our lives.

As it happens, our lives make little sense at the moment. To our brains, the pandemic is an abstract term, something you can’t touch, smell, or taste. In the distance, the ambulance sirens sound alarm, but what does that have to do with us? In the end, the numbers you see on the internet are just numbers on a screen. Most of us haven’t lost a loved one. Yet.

So little of it makes sense that it starts to build up into restlessness, anxiety, depression and other unpleasantries that define cabin fever. But you can soothe some of those symptoms if you give yourself time to think out of it on paper.

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