News & Press
Community Wellness: Cure for cabin fever: Great creative
By Julie Dowling, LMSW
Supervisor of Clinical Outpatient Services for Ionia County Community Mental Health
Posted Feb. 27, 2015 at 11:52 PM
With the snow seemingly endlessly swirling around us and day after day of what seems like new record low temperatures, many of us experience what is known as “cabin fever.” While not a medical diagnosis, the symptoms of cabin fever, both mental and physical, are very real for many people.
Cabin fever is typically associated with the winter solstice, when the days are at their shortest and longest periods of darkness during the year. When people “hunker down” and stay inside for what feels like extended periods of time, they may feel tense, irritable, depressed, experience unusual aches and pains, have disrupted sleep patterns and general unhappiness can be exacerbated.
If you are not one of the lucky ones who is headed to some tropical island, there are things you can do to reduce the symptoms of cabin fever, most importantly it is important to mix things up! Do things you would not ordinarily do, be creative! You must challenge yourself to do something to break the monotony.
- Embrace winter: Bundle up and go outside, build a snowman, make a snow angel, go sledding, grab your cross country skis, go ice skating, or simply walk around the block, enjoy the winter weather around us;
- Go low tech: Set down the phones and video games and pull out some board games, interact with those around you;
- Get personal: Invite friends or family over for a potluck or host a cooking class for your friends, do things that are highly interactive;
- Exercise: whether you join a gym, slip in a DVD or find a yoga class on TV … do it! You will feel better, both emotionally and physically.
Simply changing what we think about a situation is powerful, “If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at will change.” So, if you embrace winter and mix things up, you may lessen your cabin fever.
Julie Dowling, LMSW, is Supervisor of Clinical Outpatient Services for Ionia County Community Mental Health. Next week, she'll discuss Seasonal Affective Disorder.