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Break the Grip of Cabin Fever

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By Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Winter has settled in and it will be months before it releases its icy grip on our bodies…and our minds. Winter means less sunlight per day and many more hours spent indoors. The restlessness and boredom that result from being confined can make almost all of us irritable. What can you do to decrease that claustrophobic feeling that comes with being snowbound?

Note: If you are experiencing more severe symptoms such as depression, sleepiness, lethargy, feelings of despair or poor attention span, please read our article on Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Get Out if You Can

Unless the wind chills are at dangerous levels, going outdoors for even a short walk can be beneficial. Dressing properly for the conditions will allow you to brave the elements and walk about in the sunshine and fresh air. You’ll return with a satisfying “I did something” feeling that can last the entire day. If the weather is just too dismal, indoor tracks or even a few laps around the local mall can give you some exercise and a change of scenery. Any burst of activity can make you feel you’ve “earned” your quiet time.

Take a Vacation – In Your Mind

Many of us can’t afford to leave town for sunnier climes when winter settles in. However, going out to see a pleasant movie can occupy your mind and help you forget about the weather. Television travel shows on sunny locations can trick your brain into slipping into a summer mindset for a while.

The Home Spa Treatment

Every house has its own spa center. It’s called the bath tub. Fill the tub with hot water, add your favorite bath salts, dim the lights and maybe light a candle. Let the water seep into all your muscles, reducing stress. There are tension points throughout our bodies. Cold weather can clench them without us even knowing it. This spa-style relaxation technique will find those hidden trigger spots. And guys, baths are good for you, too. If the idea doesn’t appeal (or your frame is just too big for the tub), a hot shower can provide relief.

Embrace the Winter Season

Maybe this winter is the time to try a cold weather sport like cross-country skiing, snow shoeing or ice skating. Miss the holidays? You can look forward to events like the Super Bowl or The Winter Olympics to plan parties that will bring families and friends back together again. Or curl up in front of a fire with a good book, hot chocolate and a furry companion. Whether people or pets, reaching out for companionship is a great way to cope with the Winter Blues.

Reach Out

Hopefully, these tips will help you wait out the days until Spring. But if the walls are really closing in and you feel a bit panicky, one of our counselors will be happy to talk with you. Sometimes it helps to know we are only a phone call away.