As I’m sitting here, looking outside at the snow falling (we’re supposed to be getting 10-14 inches today), I can’t help but think about the stressors of being stuck inside with intrusive or racing thoughts. Whether you are stuck inside due to weather, child/elder care, transportation, or other life situations, the inability or serious lack of desire (for example in my case I have no desire to be outside whatsoever in snow) can cause your intrusive or racing thoughts to increase immensely. The feeling of being “caged” inside the house increases the feeling of being “caged” within your head as well.
It is a terrible feeling to not be able to get away from racing or intrusive thoughts to begin with. However, often times just getting out of the house – being able to take a short walk – makes people feel better. There is evidence that exercise helps release the endorphins in the brain, making you feel better. There is also evidence that being outside releases those endorphins. Recently I saw an article that explained when people walk outside versus inside, there is a huge difference in their endorphin release. So, being stuck inside can be very frustrating.
Obviously there are things you can do when you are inside to get away from the racing or intrusive thoughts. You do a variety of things everyday. However, just the belief that you are stuck inside with no escape can make the brain work overtime with regard to racing and intrusive thoughts. Personally, I don’t know what exactly causes this; I have not done any research on it, but I know it happens to many people. Sometimes people get “cabin fever” and start to get tired of being inside. They get bored and don’t know what to do to occupy themselves anymore. When you have PTSD, cabin fever can feel like jail within yourself and your head. You start by doing all the things you normally do. You feel ok for awhile. As the hours drag on, you get tired of doing all that stuff, and even if you wouldn’t go out anyway, just knowing you really can’t (or don’t want to), is enough to drive you crazy. Then the racing or intrusive thoughts get worse and you still try to do all the coping techniques you usually use. It seems to get harder as the hours go on. At some point many people just give up trying to stay busy or stay mindful.
What do you do when you are cooped up? What helps you keep the racing and intrusive thoughts from overtaking your day? I have found it does help to start early. Start before you are feeling cooped up. If I start doing things before feeling cooped up, I tend to be able to last longer before feeling bored, caged, start pacing anxiously, etc. As long as the power is on, I like to bake. I like to read. I like to build my business and help others (even if only indirectly at the moment). What about you? Comment below to tell me, and help others who just don’t know what to do deal with the racing and intrusive thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback!