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Life Happens: How to keep cabin fever at bay

Cabin fever is a common malady in the northern regions of our country. Here in Western New York, we’ve had a couple of pretty nice winters, in the last few years. This winter isn’t one of them. The recent storm that struck our area brought it all back for us.

So once again, we’ve got to pull those cabin fever coping skills out of our survival kits, and prepare for polar vortexes and other blizzard-related weather patterns.

When the wind is howling, the snow is blinding and the roadways are closed, what are some ways that people handle being stuck in the house, sometimes for days? Providing, of course, that the power is still on. No power puts an entirely different spin on the phrase “survival skills.”

I took to the streets, once they were plowed, and asked people, “What do you do when cabin fever sets in?”

Twenty people answered my question, and overall, everyone was very upbeat and resourceful, in their coping strategies. You can’t get us down, here in the frozen North.

Many people take this weather-imposed downtime as an opportunity to do relaxing things that they ordinarily don’t get a chance to do. Activities like curling up with a good book, having a movie marathon or baking ranked high on the list.

Catching up on laundry, playing on the Internet and online shopping are also very popular endeavors. Playing board games with the kids, who are enjoying their snow days, is a nice way to reconnect and spend time together, as a family.

A few orderly souls like to get a jump on spring cleaning. “Why waste beautiful spring weather on cleaning?” was the general consensus. I can see the wisdom in that.

The gardeners among us get out their seed catalogs and plan their summer gardens, with large sheets of paper, pencils, rulers and crayons or colored pencils. It’s a project that is perfect for when that wind is howling outside.

Some people embrace the weather and make sure they get out of the house every day, at least for five minutes, even if it’s just to walk in the snow. For those of us who shovel, being out there in the weather is a given. In that case, a nice hot cup of cocoa and resting in the warmth of home after a shovel session is a welcome respite.

So, many of us who deal with the winter weather, year after year, practice productive cabin fever management. Instead of looking at blizzards, driving bans and snow days as limiting our activity, we tend to embrace the time as an intermission in our otherwise busy lives. It may be forced upon us, but as long as we have power and heat, it’s also a chance to relax, recharge and do the little things we never get a chance to do.

I’ll remember that, as I pace back and forth and wait for spring.

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