In Southwest Virginia, winter weather fluctuates from extremely winter-like (subfreezing temperatures, snow, ice, blistering wind) to suspiciously mild (today it is nearly 70 degrees!) For me, the milder days provide an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the pleasures of spring a couple months early, which is a big help in combating cabin fever. But spring-like weather in February is inevitably followed by stretches of cold, wet, and downright gross winter spells. On bad weather days, cabin fever often leaves me feeling restless and unproductive which, in turn, can affect my performance at work and make accomplishing anything at home feel like an impossibility. Here are some methods I’ve come up with over the years for beating cabin fever and making the most of winter, whatever the weather is:
Do Chores at Home
When I feel stuck, I have trouble motivating myself to get unstuck, even if the solution is right in front of me: a stack of dirty dishes or a carpet covered with tumbleweeds of dog hair, for example. But there’s nothing that makes me feel productive on a cold, dreary day quite like polishing up around the house. Though it doesn’t seem like it at first, cleaning up your living space can actually be therapeutic and enriching. The results are tangibly useful and easy to enjoy. The hardest part is getting started. I like to motivate myself through a series of rewards—after I finish “x” amount of chores, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine or have some chocolate (not too much wine, though!)
Volunteer in Your Community
Most of us stop doing unpaid work after we graduate from high school or college. Indeed, working a full time job can make a volunteer gig seem trite and pointless. But, volunteering is one way to make your life rich with purpose year-round, and it’s only as much of a time commitment as you make it. When cabin fever strikes, consider picking up a volunteer position that will help you learn a new skill or explore a passion/talent of yours that you don’t get to use as work.
Throw a Party
When I get cabin fever, the last thing I want to do is put real pants on and socialize. However, studies show that regular socialization boosts mood and improves well-being for most people. We are social creatures, after all. If you’re feeling stuck, plan a party with some friends or family members you haven’t seen in a while. You’ll be preoccupied planning, cleaning, and cooking for your guests, and then the social atmosphere will ease you out of your shell.
Learn Something New
It’s easy to forget this, but learning is a life-long process. There’s always a new skill to acquire, a new book to read, or a new class to take. These days, anyone can access thousands of classes and lessons online for free. There are also vast libraries of digital books and other learning tools on the web. Many of my friends are trying out language learning software for the first time, or using apps to learn how to play new instruments. Ultimately, the enormous amount of resources available to all of us who have internet connections and smart phones is enough of a reason to make boredom a blessing, not a curse. So, when foul weather hits, think first of what you can do and later of what you can’t.