Pandemic Diaries: Cabin Fever

By Jamie Etheridge

Over the last few days we’ve seen the numbers of curfew breakers grow, as many as 23 people arrested in one night for being outside their homes during the curfew hours. As the Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah has warned, staying home is an absolute necessity and especially in this critical period when the infection rate is spiking.

At the same time, we are now completing our ninth week of ‘stay at home’. Nine weeks of going out only for necessities or work, nine weeks of no school for the children, no outside excursions, no trips to the shops or the parks or restaurants. Nine weeks of lockdown.

There are signs around the globe that the pandemic lockdown is impacting not only our health and economies but also our mental health and this is especially true for children and youth. Being stuck at home for more than two months with limited or no outside activities is stressful, even if you are lucky enough to have a comfortable home with a garden and plenty of space.

Being stuck at home with no end in sight, with no timeline for when this might end and life might return back to normal adds to the anxiety. Humans need change. They need movement, outdoor time, socializing with friends, challenges and experiences. Keeping indoors for weeks on end limits stimuli, especially fresh stimuli and can erode our patience and calm, can fuel anxiety and depression.

We all start to feel the effects of cabin fever, the need to go out somewhere just to feel relaxed. Usually home is the place where we feel the most at rest, the most relaxed but when one cannot leave home, the opposite effect begins to grow. We feel claustrophobic, restless.

That is why, though now is the most important time to stay at home, it is likely we will see even more curfew breakers. Despite the fines and penalties, some people won’t be able to resist. There are those breaking the curfew who simply don’t respect the rules or who are out committing crimes. But no doubt there are a few who just felt overwhelmed, overcome by a sudden need to go outside.

etheridge@kuwaittimes.com