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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Give yourself a break!

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Woman sitting on the beach holding a laptop

Cabin fever is taking on a whole new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked if we’re experiencing anything on that gigantic list of COVID symptoms, most of us could answer yes to having cabin fever even if our temperature is 98.6°. How about you? Is staying home getting old?

How is the pandemic affecting our activities?

It’s become increasingly common to go days without driving, leaving the house, and possibly not even going outside. Although staying in may be recommended for avoiding the virus, we lose out on the benefits of getting a change of scenery and taking a break from what may have become a very limited routine.

Working from home provides the benefits of flexibility, little or no commuting, and perks such as being able to work in your slippers. On the flip side, remote work has led to working an average of one hour more per day. We don’t seem to be using the saved commute time for exercising or reading a good book. (1)

What happened to vacations?

We are spending more time working and less time vacationing. Even before the pandemic, most American workers left vacation days unused. In 2020, more people canceled vacations than took them. (1)

The pandemic has had a profound effect on our travel patterns. Not only do more people stay home, but when we do leave home we travel shorter distances. To see how the pandemic has affected travel in your area, visit:

All of this has had a devastating effect on the travel industry and potentially a negative effect on individuals.

Creative ways to take a break

To counter this effect, we need to look for alternative approaches to taking breaks and vacations and find creative ways to experience a change of scenery. Here are 5 ideas to try:

  • Build breaks into your at-home work day. Include movement breaks, meal breaks (not sitting at your computer!), social breaks (call or text someone, message someone on social media, etc.), and rest breaks (take a nap!).

  • Create a hobby space. Set aside space for building models, painting, crafting, quilting, learning how to play an instrument… some type of creative outlet to provide daily breaks and reduce stress.

  • Get outside daily. Walk the dog. Walk or bike to run errands. Do yard work. Play an outdoor game such as disc golf or shoot baskets.

  • Take mini vacations close to home. State and local parks are often overlooked vacation spots. Explore a park within an hour or two from home, pack a lunch, and enjoy a change of scenery.

  • Take a scenic drive:

Just because your cruise or family reunion had to be canceled doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use those vacation days. With a little creative planning, you can enjoy a break from your routine and enjoy new sights and experiences.

In case you think you don’t need that vacation… think again. Numerous longitudinal studies have found that people who forfeit vacation are more likely to suffer from the effects of stress, have increased rates of heart disease, and poorer overall health.

Vacations and even short breaks are good for our mental health and reduce the risk of depression. A work-related benefit is the finding that vacations and breaks actually make us more productive. (2,3)

Bored? Stressed? Feeling cooped up with cabin fever? Give yourself a break!!

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you.” ~ Anne Lamott

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