Cabin Fever: What to Do?

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I don’t know about you, but  I’m not looking forward to the next few months. I want it to be spring now—yesterday, in fact. How can I, and others who feel similarly, distract ourselves enough to feel better—even temporarily? I admit: I’m a writer, and writers have a tendency to hole up, regardless of the season, simply due to our preoccupation with the contents of our navels.

However, there are also some people with a predisposition toward Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), so this article is for them. Here are a few ideas to get you moving and outside, or inside and motivated—whichever options appeal to you more, what’s important is keeping yourself active and engaged with life, regardless of the temperature outside.

Take a Walk

If you lack energy to go for a hike or drive to the gym, try taking a quick walk around the neighborhood after work. What’s important is to break up the amount of time spent simply sitting. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study finding that men and women who sat more than six hours per day died earlier than their counterparts who sat for three hours or less per day. Consider the fact that going for a walk burns 200 calories an hour, versus sitting and watching TV, which burns only 5 calories, per hour. Regardless of what you do, the key is movement.

Moreover, it’s said that sitting is equivalent to smoking, in terms of its negative effects on our health. How to combat this recent trend? Well, one solution is the use of a standing desk—most HR departments will order one for you free of charge, if you ask nicely.

cabin fever

Take Up Some Fun Indoor Hobbies

Part of the fun of winter is discovering new pastimes to take up, while keeping warm indoors. Healthline recommends a few fun activities like building a couch fort, knitting, or playing some indoor miniature golf. There’s also cooking, if you’d like to really get into it, this year. Certain foods are supposed to have energizing or mood-lifting properties, such as lean beef and salmon—both high in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, mushrooms are high in Vitamin D—also said to be linked to mood and energy levels. Try making a pizza with mushrooms and lean ground beef, perhaps?

There’s also the tried-and-true indoor mainstay of reading a book. That’s been in fashion for quite a while now. There is no shortage of reading material to be found online, in case you’ve gone through everything on your bookshelves; if you don’t feel like reading any of the free selections in the public domain via a site like Project Gutenberg and the Kindle selection via Amazon should keep you busy until spring, with all the latest bestseller lists being well-stocked.

Holiday (a.k.a. Home Improvement) Projects

Okay, so I already know what you’re thinking: home improvement? That’s not my idea of fun! Oh, but maybe it is, and you just don’t know it yet! To be fair, not all of these projects are home improvement-related, per se, so try to reserve your judgement until the end of the section.

The first idea is that of decluttering. There are no handy skills required for this one—merely the ability to know if you can stand to get rid of those sandals you never manage to wear each summer, even though you think you could find an outfit to pair them with. After filling a bag or two with clothes and other items you no longer need, move on to more technical tasks. If you have an attic, take a look to see if it’s insulated. If it’s not, that would be an excellent project for cold weather days. Insulating that space will go a long way toward saving you money on your monthly heating bills.

Next, take a look at your lightbulbs. Are they energy-efficient models or old fashioned incandescent bulbs? If so, they’re using 25 to 80 percent more energy than LED or CFL lightbulbs. If you feel at a loss for where to begin, here’s a handy little guide from the Department of Energy—which I don’t believe has been dismantled, as of yet! If your current windows need to be replaced or repaired, here’s a handy guide to that, as well. Just remember, it may not be practical for you to DIY on every indoor project, so don’t be shy about calling a professional, when in need!

Indoor Gardening

cabin fever

While it may seem unexpected, one last creative way to beat the winter blues is to take up gardening inside, while you’re waiting for spring to arrive! Marion Owen has some great suggestions over at Plantea for you, including alfalfa sprouts, fresh garlic shoots, and a seed swap among friends. There are also a great number of herbs that do quite well when started indoors. Consider picking up a full-spectrum “seasonal disorder” light to aid in the growth process.

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There are a few herbs, in particular, that have a reputation as being easy to grow regardless of the conditions: these include chives, mint, rosemary, and basil; check out more information here. You might also consider growing tomatoes indoors using a hydroponic system. Though they are apparently a bit of an investment, they are probably worth it due to their relatively high success rate. Though there are a few different types of hydroponics, you can always narrow down your options by starting small and expanding only after you feel comfortable with at least one type, so as to keep the size manageable.


However you manage to get through the winter. Remember that if you feel low-energy or somewhat depressed, at times, you’re not alone. There is such a thing as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and if it gets more serious than mild depression. It’s probably best to make an appointment with a doctor to look into medical treatment options. If you think it’s not that serious, try one of the above activities, meditation, yoga, a light therapy box, or a dawn simulator alarm clock. Also, don’t forget the company of friends and family for good conversation and genuine interaction to remind you that you’re not alone, in the world. A few laughs are sure to make the time between now and spring pass more quickly.

Do you have any secrets to passing the time in a fun, creative way, over the winter? Share your experience in the comments section, below!

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