5 Ideas to Beat Winter Cabin Fever


A winter pond

I’m not going to lie, this year winter hit me like a truck. For the time being, I live in Iowa, which experiences all four seasons. I drive a Prius, which doesn’t handle snow well due to its size and front wheel drive. I’m not historically a winter sports enthusiast, and I don’t like being cold. I also work full time, which means that during November through January when days are shorter, I spend almost all of daylight hours working in an office. I chose all of those aspects of my life, because right now, there are a lot of benefits. However, this year I really learned that for my mental health, I need to make sure I get out and adventure during the winter the best I can. Here are 5 strategies I use to hold over my hunger for adventure during the cold, dark, winter. 

1. Use lunch breaks wisely during the winter

If the best sunshine and warmest hours happen while you are at work, take advantage of your lunch break to get some vitamin D. I like to eat my lunch while working, so I can walk around the property on sunny days. This works especially well if I bring hummus and veggie sticks, cheese and crackers, nuts and fruit slices, or other foods that don’t require heating or utensils.

2. Get up when the sun is up

Depending on if your location follows daylight savings time, you might find that the sun is getting up earlier than you. If you can, set an alarm to remind you to go to bed earlier, and set an alarm to wake up earlier than normal. Use your extra time to sit in front of a window while you eat breakfast, read a book, or exercise. Soak in that sweet, sweet vitamin D.

3. Have the proper winter clothing and equipment

I really, really don’t like being cold. In fact, sometimes I use the feeling of being cold to justify wasting an otherwise gorgeous winter day, even when the temperatures are safe. If you plan on going out on a lunch break walk, make sure you bring extra layers, mittens, hats, boots, and anything else you think will make that cold more tolerable. Consider investing in a sled or some quality winter boots to make weekend adventures seem less uncomfortable. 

4. Catch up with friends and family; or make new friends

Nothing makes life feel warmer than hanging out with your favorite people. If you don’t feel great mentally, schedule a date night, visit your parents, or have dinner and a game night at your friend’s place. I know that many people my age, who have only been out of college for two to three years might not have the same social infrastructure as people younger and older than them. If nobody is in driving distance, call them instead and have a virtual crafting club or play Jack box games. My college roommate and some other friends from college have done this. During the pandemic times, it was a godsend. If you don’t have enough people on hand, you might want to invest some time in meeting new friends. You can sign up for an art, dance or fitness class, find a group to practice a language with, or try a friend-finding service like Bumble. 

If you are trying to get your friend or partner to come with you on adventures, read this blog.

5. Get out of the house at every reasonable opportunity

Volunteer. Babysit or pet sit. Go window shopping, or go shopping in a physical store for gifts. Go read a book in a coffee shop. Spend hours in a bookstore. Visit the elderly. Go to a bar for bingo or trivia. Visit a museum, arcade, indoor zoo or arboretum. Bowl. Read a randomly selected book at the library. Go to a free concert. Become a patron of the fine arts, and see a community theater performance. Go for a drive. Find an open swim at a community pool. Join a gym. Take advantage of free community events and celebrations.

A few times this winter my apartment started feeling like a cage. That's not okay because I want my space to feel calming and cozy, and a place where I feel in control. I took these moments to drive to a nearby town I hadn’t visited in a while for their free Christmas-on-mainstreet celebration and to window shop. When I came home, I felt lighter and happier, almost like an entirely different person. 

Final thoughts

Winter is hard. Preparation and game plans can help. However, if your winter adventure starvation blues turns out to be something serious, and you feel yourself going to a darker state of mind, PLEASE talk to someone you trust about it, or talk to a medical professional. It may turn out that you have a condition that requires medical attention, such as SAD, depression, anxiety, or even a nutritional deficiency. The advice in this blog is not intended to fix any medical grade issue. 

I hope everyone takes some time to get out more for the remainder of this winter season! Be kind to yourself, and happy adventuring!


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