We have all suffered cabin fever these past eighteen months, and it has been awful juggling jobs and commitments and suffering health and financial devastation. In the beginning, staying inside during lockdown was a novelty. We no longer had to rush around. We worked from home, with our time mostly our own. We could have Zoom meetings in our pyjamas, as long as our top half looked presentable on the screen, and we could eat and sleep when we felt like it. We didn’t have to keep watching the clock.
But the novelty eventually wore off, leaving many people feeling weary, bored, claustrophobic, irritable, restless and isolated.
One of our biggest problems was lack of fresh air and it still is for many people. Fresh air is essential for physical and mental health and we can’t get enough of it when living and working in confined areas. We breathe the same air many times over, giving our brain less oxygen and increased carbon dioxide, and this can cause drowsiness, irritability, fatigue, and mind fog.
Our indoor surroundings are often loaded with toxins, such as mould, synthetic fibres, dust mites and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) emanating from household products such as paints, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, dry-cleaned clothing, carpet fibres, air fresheners, printers, glues and much more. Inhaling these for long periods can cause sick building syndrome, where a person feels ill, has headaches, irritation in the eyes, nose and throat, and feels anxious or depressed, with no reason or cause identified.
Getting outside offers physical and mental benefits, as long as you are exposed to fresh air and not toxic fumes. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D which helps fight off depression and stress. Green areas of nature help to reduce the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol and boost endorphins and dopamine, our feel-happy hormones. Fresh air cleans the lungs, clears the mind, energises the body, improves blood pressure and heart rate, and is good for the digestive system.
So, try and get outside more. If the weather permits, do your physical workout outside. Walk, engage your senses, breathe deeply, see the beauty of nature, smell the flowers and grass, hear the birds, touch the leaves.
If you can’t get outside, open the windows and doors to let air in. Open the blinds or curtains to let in the sun’s rays. Have plants around that absorb toxins from the air, such as peace lilies, areca palms, rubber plants, spider plants and dracaenas. Try to find natural alternatives for household cleansers and personal hygiene products. They are becoming popular so should be easy to find.
Above all, enjoy being outside, knowing that nature has restorative properties and is helping to heal your body, mind and mood.