On Dealing with Cabin Fever

dealing with cabin fever

The expression “cabin fever” is much more than just an expression: it’s a very real thing! Cabin fever is the result of being cooped up, mostly during the winter when it’s too cold to go outside. If you’ve got cabin fever it means that you’re a little restless, going stir-crazy, and in need of a change of scene!

For us, cabin fever tends to strike in the colder months: piles of snow make it hard to go outside and subzero temperatures are likewise uninviting.

When the fever strikes…

I’ve noticed that the fever strikes slowly…My husband may to fiddle around the cabin looking for projects to do. Or I might start to feel a pinch of irritability: why is my husband chewing so loud. Or why does the dog have to lay in the middle of the walkway.

Pet peeves grow from minor annoyances to blaring disturbances. And then bam! Full on cabin fever happens… You realize that being cooped up is affecting your mood and it’s time to get some fresh air!


Oh the irony…

Symptoms of cabin fever include: restlessness, irritability, inability to concentrate, and lethargy. Those seem like big symptoms for what cabin fever is (essentially doing nothing…), but they build on each other to create the dreaded cabin fever. Cabin fever is a perfect storm of these symptoms, a mix of emotions and it’s difficult to shake!

We moved to our cabin from Austin, TX, where I know I’ve made jokes before about having “cabin fever” – which was basically a euphemism for wanting to get out of the house. Oh the irony that now we live in an actual cabin 🙂 And the cabin peaks out from the snow for about half the year: 

(the cabin after getting a couple inches of snow this november.)

Here’s how we deal with cabin fever. If these work for us – living in a 650 sq ft cabin in one of the snowiest places in the U.S. – you can pretty much assume they will work anywhere…

5 Ways to Deal with Cabin Fever (Even if You Don’t Live in An Actual Cabin)

1. Start a new project

Start a new project – something that you’re passionate about and that you can dedicate your full focus to. This helps “reset” your mind in a way. You’ll focus on your project for a few hours, giving you enough of a mindset shift to feel less restless.

For example, this winter I took up a new hobby: cross stitching! This gives me lots of little projects to do and it’s a relaxing hobby that I can do curled up by the fire in winter. (Shameless plug: I also now sell my cross stitch patterns here on Etsy.)

(my first try at a cross stitch pattern)

2. Read a good book

Books are a great escape. TV is an escape too, but books work better in this case because they take your full attention – whereas with TV you can be watching a show but doing other things at the same time. Get lost in the pages of a book for a while and it’s as close as you can get to getting outside yourself!

3. Get a change of scene

If the weather is really daunting, opt for a change of scene within your home. Hang out in a different spot than you usually do or spend time in a different room than you usually would.

Sure, it’s not the same as getting outside, but it’s a change! When you’re in the midst of cabin fever, any change is a welcome one.

Pro tip: you can also rearrange your furniture to make it feel like you’re in a different space. I’ve rearranged our cabin living room many a time:

(the most recent configuration of our living room)

4. Stay busy

Staying busy is key to beating cabin fever. If you aren’t busy, it’s as if the feelings of being restless are amplified: you’ll start to focus too much on all different aspects of cabin fever.

It doesn’t matter so much what you do in this case, as long as you’re doing something.

I find that the most natural way to do this in winter is to do some of the things that must be done. Whether it’s household chores, grabbing some more firewood, or other winter-related productive things. It seems like there’s always things to do around the cabin in winter. For example, all this firewood doesn’t stack itself:

(about a month or two’s worth of firewood stacked & ready to go on our porch)

5. Get some exercise

If you can, get some exercise and fresh air outside. Even just going for a walk for 15 minutes or having a 10 minute snowball fight in the yard gets your heart pumping. This works wonders for cabin fever.

Winter may be cold, snowy, and icy, but there are also many upsides to living in a winter wonderland: it is very pretty and there are many ways to enjoy the snow. You can build a snowman, go sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, or simply exploring.

Honestly, sometimes I have to force myself to go outside 🙂 It’s not easy to get out in winter! But it always is worth it, and an near-instant cure for cabin fever.

I remind myself to focus on the beauty of winter – it’s hard to disagree with that:

(waking up to a fresh snowfall in the morning is one of the most beautiful parts of winter…)

Do you have other ways that you deal with cabin fever? Drop them in the comments below & share the knowledge!

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    • Megan
      February 9, 2020 / 11:30 am

      Thank you so much! 🙂

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