As I've mentioned previously, I recently moved to Northern California up into the rural parts of the state. Although I truly appreciate nature's beauty I had no idea how much the isolation could affect my mental state after a few weeks. Let me preface today's post with a little background. Where I'm staying is absolutely stunning but there are a few hurdles that I've never experienced before. For instance, it takes hours to get to a grocery store and there are only a few people if any that you may come into contact with over the course of a week. The county we neighbor has zero stoplights and only four stops signs in the entire COUNTY! That's crazy to me coming from Houston which is the fourth largest city in America.
After four weeks here I experienced a glimpse of cabin fever. Yep, full on emotional breakdown for a good three days. Nothing was satisfying. I was incredibly homesick and I realized, "Well, I live here now." After talking to a few people in the area, I realized it's common and there are ways to manage around it. Here are the things I was recommended and then did to get out of my cabin funk!
Remind Yourself This Is Temporary
Many people experience cabin fever during the cold winter months when they are cut off from the rest of society due to inclimate weather and blizzards. The days seem endless and it's difficult to keep track of time. One of the things I've been told over the last month is to remind yourself that this situation is temporary. Isn't everything in life a little temporary? It can be really difficult during emotional times to remember that this too shall pass but it will!
Establish and Maintain Your Daily Routine
Routines are something that help you establish a clear mental space. When we have good routines put into place our minds are freed up to focus on tasks at hand or bigger strategic decisions. I've talked alot about routines on the blog (see this post and this post). Sticking to your routine and keeping a calendar helps track your days. I also found keeping a written schedule versus an electronic calendar helps me stay focused.
Stock Up on Necessities and a Few Luxuries
The hardest part other than isolation from people is being isolated to things you usually have on hand. Up here shopping at a Wal-mart is a full day roundtrip. If you forget something, it's unlikely you'll be able to get it for a few days, weeks or months due to soaring gas prices, construction, fires or roads being blocked. Mail takes a little longer to reach us and there are times that you cannot receive deliveries due to the roads being closed. Have your luxury things like facial masks, bubble bath, maybe it's nice sheets - whatever it is - buy some and keep on hand to last you longer than you thought you might need in the event you can't get into the city. It makes a HUGE difference. A few of the items I'd recommend having include toiletries, conditioner, lotion, coffee, and a fully stocked pantry.
Plan a Getaway When You Can Take One
Give yourself a break. One of the things about being isolated is that it's difficult to take a break. There's always something to do, take care of or work at when you are isolated from others. One of the things I noticed helps is to have planned breaks and take them when you can. Keep that calendar in front of you to remind you what you are working towards. When you have the chance to go somewhere, GO! Enjoy the time away and change of scenery.
I think the other thing that I was surprised about is how disconnected I felt this past week. Although I am not COMPLETELY ALONE, I just moved from an environment where I was web connected (and here internet is a challenge to say the least) and busy almost every night with a social activity. I had other moms around to talk to and took fitness classes frequently. I also walked every other day to the grocery store to grab a few items and fresh produce. Going from that environment to seeing the same ten people constantly was a little rough. I love each person around, but the shock of not having activities nightly really impacted my state of mind. I decided to join a few online groups on Facebook with similar interests and lifestyles so that when I have a decent connection I can reach out. I also make a point to call back home or correspond with friends daily when possible. I also found it was really important to maintain my spiritual relationship with God. Journaling, prayer and daily meditation really improves my mood and confirms my sense of purpose. Take the time to build these into your schedule daily.
Well, there you have it! After a few days, then an overnight staycation in Sacramento in The Citizen Hotel (which you can read about here) I came back renewed and refreshed. I popped out my list of goals and refocused on the important things. Remember, you're going to be okay! You're going to make it through and most of all it's only temporary!