Cabin Fever: How to Care for Your Mental Health

Women Inside looking at rain.

By March, many of us begin to feel a bit tired of winter. We’ve skiied and snowboarded, worn our favorite winter sweaters and cozied up by the fireplace more than once. It seems that around this time of year, “cabin fever” starts to set in, so I figured I’d do some research on the topic and on ways we can help ourselves out when it comes to the winter blues.

First of all, is “cabin fever” real?

While “cabin fever” is not a diagnosis you’ll find in the DSM, it absolutely is a real phenomenon that affects many people. While cabin fever, at its essence, refers to feelings of social isolation and boredomgeneral symptoms include:

How can I cope with cabin fever?

The self-care and coping strategies recommended in regard to cabin fever are neither new nor mind-blowing, but I often find that the most simple, “tried and true” coping skills – such as “the big 3” of eating healthy, exercising and getting adequate sleep – are often the best way to go. Here are some ways you can manage the symptoms of cabin fever:

Finally, what’s the Buddhist take on coping with cabin fever?

Buddhist psychology urges us to look at the role that our minds play in terms of suffering. From this perspective, we’re encouraged to ask ourselves what stories we’re telling ourselves in regard to cabin fever. What does all of the mind chatter say? Things like “This will never end”, “I’m so bored and lonely“, and “I can’t take being indoors any longer!” simply perpetuate our distress and turn pain into suffering. Try to drop the stories and get present. Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation are hugely helpful in this regard. Finally, remember that this too shall pass! One of the main principles in Buddhist philosophy is impermanence and the notion that, as the Buddha said, “everything that has a beginning, has an ending”. Try to get some perspective on this rough patch and before you know it, Spring will be here in full bloom 

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