As people work from home and public places and parks close amid the rising number of coronavirus cases, cabin fever can begin to take hold.
Lisa Woolston, LifeStream’s associate vice president of Citrus County services, told the Chronicle it’s not unusual for people to be anxious when surrounded by pandemic news and being shut in along with children and other family members.
Many people are struggling with the unknown associated with the viral outbreak, changes in their life’s routines, and the lack of control over what they see happening around them, including forced to stay indoors and lack of socializing outside their own four walls, Woolston said.
There are things people can do.
“With the sensationalizing of the pandemic …everywhere you turn, you have to listen, but (also) tune it out,” she said, adding that people should not to be overwhelmed by coronavirus news. “You have to find a credible source.”
And as many of us are required to stay or work from home, we have to accept it as the landscape for now and work with what we have, she said.
“After all is said and done our normal is not going to be normal again,” she said. “And what that normal looks like no one knows.”
Leesburg-based LifeStream Behavioral Center is contracted to provide public mental health and addiction counseling for Citrus County.
Woolston said that part of the strategy of being homebound or with limited ways to go outside and socialize is how we perceive it.
So when people are required to work from home, they have to think of their work station at home as where they work and not continually remind themselves they are away from their office, she said.
We don’t have control of the virus, but we do have control over some of the changes around us, she said.
For those getting irritated by staying home, “they need something tangible to change their mindset,” Woolston said.
When stuck inside, try using different parts of your brain, she said.
Engage in crafts or watch a kind of movie you don’t normally watch, she said.
Try being silent and meditate. Listen to birds and the trees swaying in the wind.
For those who have children at home, Woolston said their parenting skills will be challenged because most families send their children to school and out of the house most of the day.
But as frustrating as it can be, it is also “an opportunity to ask (yourself) where do I want to take my family as a family unit? What do I want (my children) to learn (from this experience)?” she said.
Families should spend this time together and do things together rather than spending it focused on computer games or isolated activities, she said.
When people get anxious over the virus or something else like it, “behind the anxiety is uncertainty and fear and they feel powerless,” Woolston said.
To combat the feeling of powerlessness, do something productive.
“Do some volunteering. You have to feel you have some power over something,” she said. “Take that anxiety and bring it back to the community.”
Helping others less fortunate is rewarding, breaks up your routine and gets you out of the house, she said.
Woolston said LifeStream is available to help people during this stressful period and people need only contact LifeStream. The organization’s telephone number in Citrus County is 352-228-4470.
“We are here for you. We are an essential service (to the community),” she said. “We will not turn anyone away.”
Other health experts advise making sure to get outdoors and not be sedentary. Go outside if you have a back yard, play outdoor games with your family, work up a sweat.
If you have access to a lake or river then fish or canoe or go boating when you can.
This could be the opportunity to get more outdoor exercise, they say.
Meanwhile, Inverness City manager Eric Williams encourages those with cabin fever to take advantage of what’s still available.
Williams said that luckily for Inverness residents and visitors, the city is “a highly walkable, highly, multi-connected community,” that allows residents and citizens to get out of their homes and walk or ride their bicycles.
As health care officials and government leaders encourage social distancing, the Inverness downtown is well designed for outdoor visits “as long as people don’t congregate,” Williams said.
Many city restaurants also offer take-out services.
The city still offers “lots of opportunities,” he said for people wanting to get out of their houses or apartments.
Previously, Inverness’ parks remained open (with the exception of playgrounds and splash pads) but that changed this week when the city closed all park use.
Williams said he timed those closings with the closing of parks belonging to other cities. He also closed the parks because the Inverness parks were popular launch sites to enter the state-owned Withlacoochee State Trail, which the governor ordered closed.
The park closings also serve to discourage people from congregating where they might infect someone else, he said.
Meanwhile, the Inverness City hall remains open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but only in the lobby for visitors.
Williams said visitors to city hall can pick up documents and fill them out and drop them back off at the building’s drop box. You can telephone city staff at 352-726-2611 to request city services and speak to staff about documents you need, Williams said.
Other city government offices are closed.