As the UK government moves ever closer to recommending mass self-isolation to counter the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, then so I expect we will see a raft of suggestions about what to do to counteract cabin fever, defined by Lexico to be lassitude, irritability, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors. Apart from the usual suggestions of watch movies, read books, and listen to music, here is my list of things you can do to stave off boredom.
- Sort out all those old photographs/postage stamps/football programs/old gramophone records/… and tidy up your bookshelves/wardrobes/kitchen drawers/cupboards/…
- Write a 60,000-word (min) book: autobiographical, mystery, drama, technical, or if you’re feeling brave and adventurous, erotica.
- Do a 1000-piece jigsaw, and then do it again!
- Learn a foreign language and join an online conversational group.
- Learn a computer programming language and write a world-beating app.
- Start a blogging website or become a YouTube vlogger.
- Read any one of War and Peace (Tolstoy), Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake (Joyce), Gravity’s Rainbow (Pynchon), Moby-Dick (Melville), Paradise Lost (Milton), Infinite Jest (Wallace) or The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky) and write a 5,000-word review.
- Learn to knit and then create colourful novelty face masks or woollen underwear for men and women.
- Enlist in an online degree course such as is offered by the Open University, or similar.
- Keep fit: take up yoga or pilates, walk up and down the stairs at least ten times a day, invest in a treadmill or exercise bike, or, if allowed, go walking in people-free places.
- Keep the garden neat and tidy.
- Do a daily cryptic crossword or fiendish sudoku puzzle.
- Learn to play bridge or chess and join an online game group.
- Play video games (Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Sega…).
- Make a patchwork quilt.
- Stay in touch with family and friends via FaceTime, Skype or other social media platforms.
- Tidy up the tool shed and/or turn it into a carpenter’s workshop. Make a trinket box or a newspaper rack.
- Practice singing Italian operas in the bath.
- If you are willing and able, figure out how you can help others but take a look at this post first.
- Research and plan your ideal holiday once the curse of self-isolation is lifted.
- Keep a record of daily calories-in versus calories-out (make sure calories-out is always greater than calories-in) and learn to cook exotic low-calorie meals.
- Watch all the movies that won the Academy Awards Best Picture and Cannes Festival Palme d’Or awards since the year 2000.
- Decorate the house top to bottom.
- Buy an indoor pet that doesn’t need long walks: goldfish, hamster, snake, lizard, rabbit, turtle or parrot.
- Investigate the laws of probability by tossing a coin one hundred times every day for ten days and recording how many times it lands heads up. It should be somewhere between 488 and 512.
- Write an alternative list of 25 things to counteract cabin fever!
Some of these ideas have come from my 2019 booklet, Staying Fit in your Golden Years, targeted at elderly people. If you have small children to amuse, you won’t get cabin fever. You will contract exhaustion!