9 Effective Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

What Is Cabin Fever?

According to Merriam-Webster, cabin fever is defined as extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time.  

You've been stuck in the house all winter, and you're bursting to get outside and do all the things you love.  Problem is, it's still cold!  Even after the snow melts, the ground is often too soggy and muddy to enjoy.  

Hang in there--we have some great tips to help you cope until warmer days arrive!

1.  Plan Your Garden

Remember the beginning of the pandemic when store shelves were picked clean, restaurants were closed, and farmer's markets couldn't open safely?  People who normally weren't gardeners realized planting one might be a good idea. 

Whether you're a veteran gardener or a beginner, the last leg of winter is the best time to decide on and map out a plan for your garden.

Gardens come in all shapes, types, and sizes, so you can choose the model that works best for your space and matches your interests:

  • Vegetable gardens can take up a section of your backyard or a few choice pots on your deck.  They can be in the ground, raised beds, your own tiny greenhouse, or on an urban rooftop.
  • Herb gardens are a fun way to season your homemade dishes.  It might be easier to buy spices in shaker bottles, but the flavor difference between store-bought and homegrown is intensely noticeable.  Herbs can be grown in separate pots or grouped together in a bigger planter--just be sure to research which ones grow well together.  Some need drier soil than others, and some, like mint, can be invasive.  You can even space herbs throughout your vegetable garden, known as companion planting, to help your crop.  For example, planting basil near your tomatoes can help repel mosquitoes and flies.
  • Flower gardens are fun to plan to beautify your property.  There is an art to planting flowers to purposely have something blooming during every season and to make sure the tall plants stay in the back and taper to shorter varieties in the front.  Factoring in light and water requirements and how much space your flowers will need once they mature takes some careful consideration.
Adam and Eve were our very first gardeners, so you could say it's in our blood to tend the land we live on!

2.  Break Out Your Grill

Though some people grill all year long, many in colder climates weatherize their grill for winter by cleaning the grates and then placing a cover over it until spring.  It seems like the "thing to do," but there's no reason you can't savor the tastes of spring and summer by grilling something on cold days, provided your grill isn't stuck in a mound of snow.

On a mild winter day, shake things up and grill your dinner.  The sizzle and smell will make it feel like spring.  

While you're at it, find all your favorite grilling recipes and keep them handy so you can grill more often, as weather permits.

3.  Open the Windows

After being pent up all winter, you need fresh air.  If you are tired of bundling up to go outside, bring some of the fresh air in to you.  

Open your windows, just for a brief time, and it will quickly fill your home with the smell of spring.  You don't want to give your furnace too big of a workout, so keep it short!

4.  Do an Outdoor Activity Anyway

It can feel like a cruel joke when the sun is pouring in your windows after a dull and gray winter, but the temperature is still much colder than it looks.

While you might not be able to do any of the outdoor projects and activities you do in warmer months, you can still go outside and enjoy the sun on your face.

Take a walk, pick up sticks in your yard, visit a nature park, or just sip hot chocolate from a folding chair on your deck. If snow still covers the ground, go outside with your family and build a snowman or go sledding.  If you're equipped with the right outdoor gear, there's no such thing as a day too cold to go out!  

5.  Finish Indoor Projects

Once the weather breaks, the last thing you want to do is spend more time indoors doing the special projects you put off doing over the winter.

Whether that project is repainting a room, remodeling the kitchen, or fixing something broken, throw yourself into it.  By the time you're done, spring might be here.

6.  Plan Your Vacation & Excursions

If you intend to go on a spring or summer vacation, finalize all the details of your trip.  Map your route and read reviews on the best places to lodge.  If you're flying, make sure you are aware of all the requirements so you aren't blindsided.  Make a list of restaurants you want to visit and activities you want to do once you get there.  When you do the research in advance, it helps your mind travel to a warmer place, and once your body gets to follow, you'll be ready to hit the ground running.

Besides a vacation, think about other day trips or family outings you want to include in your spring and summer.  If you have kids, spring and summer breaks sound like a long period of time, but they fly by quickly.  You want to savor the time you get to have with your kids before they grow up, so tentatively plan some special days with them.  Look into waterparks, campgrounds, fishing spots, new playgrounds, bike trails, arboretums, putt-putt golf courses, visits to out-of-town relatives, and whatever else is fun for your clan.       

7.  Shop for Spring & Summer

Another way to combat cabin fever is to shop for all the essentials you need for the pending season.  Finding the bathing suits, beach towels, shorts, mulch, potting soil, seed, fishing lures, new grill, etc., will alter your frame of mind.  By shifting your mindset away from winter and towards spring and summer, it will help you cope until the weather cooperates with your plans.

8.  Spring Clean & Purge

As birds prepare their nests, preparing your "nest" for the new season closes the chapter on the old and ushers in the new.

Spring is a time of rebirth, when all things burst forth fresh and new.  You can capture that feeling early when you do a big cleaning and purge of your house, garage, and shed.  Rid out closets, purge your kids' toys, reorganize your cabinets, and find ways to maximize the space in your shed and garage.  All the physical work will help you burn off the restlessness that accompanies cabin fever.  

Put up your spring decorations and accents in the house as you go.  Decorate early for Easter, put spring-colored placemats on your kitchen table, and break out the Easter dish towels.  Once you're done, your space will resonate "spring" because it will be clean, crisp, and refreshed, and the brightness will make you feel much less confined.  

9.  Seasonal Entertainment

Who cares what the calendar says?  Just because it's still winter doesn't mean you have to stick with winter entertainment. If you want to go someplace warm, like maybe the beach, you just need the right book.  Books have a magical way of pulling us in and taking us on an adventure we might not experience otherwise. 

If you don't enjoy reading, lose yourself in a spring or summer movie.    

Find a CD, music channel on your TV, or create a playlist of relaxation music that features spring rain, ocean waves, and chirping birds.  Winter is a very quiet season.  The snow muffles sound, the birds have flown south, and there's not the incessant buzz of mowers, weed eaters, and leaf blowers like summer.  Still, you can simulate the sounds of spring inside your own house.

Many tourist attractions now offer a virtual experience online.  Explore warmer destinations and keep dreaming about your next vacation.

Engage Your Senses

Cabin fever can make you feel like you're climbing the walls.  The best way to overcome it is to trick your mind into thinking you're already experiencing spring.  

When you're trying to lose weight, physicians might tell you to eat smaller portions on a dessert plate. The dessert plate looks full, so your mind feels satisfied.  If you put the same amount of food on a dinner plate, your mind will tell your body you didn't get enough to eat. 

Similarly, you can simulate spring and engage your senses to help calm the irritability you're experiencing from feeling like a prisoner in your own home due to the inclement weather.

  • Sight--decorate your home with spring accents.
  • Smell--open your windows or burn a spring scented candle.
  • Hearing--listen to nature music.
  • Taste--grill your dinner, drink lemonade, make an ice cream cone.
  • Touch--go shopping to pick up the supplies you'll need for warmer days.
These are just a few mood-enhancing ideas, certainly not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea!  

Spring fever is a battle in the mind.  There's a lot you can do to fight back and win.

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