How to Prevent Cabin Fever’s Worst Effects

peter wright

Daily walk with Mike – even in the snow.








How to get over the worst effects of cabin fever.

Do you live in the North of North America or Northern Europe? Have you experienced the depressing effects of winter more this year than previously?

When I heard the term cabin fever used during my first winter in Canada, I thought people were talking about some obscure disease caused by mould, bugs or small rodents inhabiting their houses. Only later did I discover it was a term used to describe the accumulative effect of months spent indoors, lack of sunlight,  short days and for many I suspect, lack of exercise.

Coming from a tropical climate with little difference in day length between mid summer and mid winter, no daylight saving clock changing and winters warm enough to wear shorts most days, I thought people were exaggerating.

After months of the coldest winter and biggest snowfalls since arriving in Canada, I now realise that cabin fever is a real problem, I am feeling its effects.

The short days and lack of sunlight have always affected me more than the below freezing temperatures, but this year the cold has also been a problem.

The combined effects have sapped my energy and affected my motivation, I have had to call on extra reserves of resilience and determination to get stuff done. I have had to make more effort to stay positive and fully motivated.

Here are a few things that have helped me and will help you. Some I have touched on in previous posts.

  • Reduced my exposure to negative news in the media.
  • Been very disciplined with creating a prioritized action plan each evening for the following day.
  • Continuing to exercise inside the house on days when the weather makes walking outside too unpleasant.
  • Doing my horse related barn tasks every day no matter how bad the weather.
  • Cutting, splitting, stacking and moving wood into the basement to keep warm.
  • Remembering that “This too shall pass” in two months or less all the snow will be gone, this is part of a natural cycle, has been for millions of years and will continue.
  • Switching tasks when I struggle with creativity. On the odd occasion when I cannot think of anything to write, switching to an hour getting my accounts up to date soon makes the switch back to writing a welcome choice.
  • Keeping busy by using the extra time inside the house to catch up on neglected tasks, reading more, spend more time learning to play the guitar.
  • I hate to admit this, but watching an hour of TV with Sue every week, perhaps because we are baby boomers or because of our British roots we have become fascinated by Downton Abbey.

Most important of all, recognising that the cabin fever does affect most of us, that it is temporary and it is not just me suffering from premature dementia.

How do you handle it?  Leave a comment.

Peter Wright


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  6 comments for “How to Prevent Cabin Fever’s Worst Effects

  1. Michelle Kosloff
    March 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    well… I grew up here and I am suffering from it big time!!!

    • March 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Michelle, that makes me feel better. This winter seems far worse that the previous 8 since I arrived here.

  2. Roberta
    March 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I have suffered with SAD for over 40 years. I really feel for you coming from Africa to this. I used to plan vacations to some place warm and sunny in mid-to late January to help me though the long cold gray/dark days of winter. Normally I am very high energy, and the sapping of my energy is always the hardest on me.

    This year I purchased a full spectrum light and it has helped tremendously. There are several brands. I am very happy with my verilux. Even just an hour an evening helps. I turn mine on just when it starts to get dark for 30-60 minutes.

    Good luck, Peter

    • March 8, 2013 at 8:05 am

      Thanks for that tip Roberta, I will look into them before next winter.

  3. Louise Cardow
    March 14, 2013 at 12:57 am

    WoW what an amazing picture Pete. I would suffer from cabin fever FOR SURE!! I hate winter here – let alone up there where it is so much colder and with snow… something I have never seen and am not in a hurry to see LOL

    Winter here is bad enough and it’s basically because, like you, I have lived most of my life in the tropics. Not seeing the sun, not being able to get out doors, raining, over cast… I soon go into depression. Yep.. there is a thing called ‘seasonal depression’ and I suffer badly from it. I LOVE your hints and tips my friend… Stay warm and stay active !

    • March 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Nice to hear from you Louise, yes it is a big adjustment living in the temperate zone after a lifetime in the tropics and like you the Southern Hemisphere. Now we are heading into Spring (in theory at least) and you are into Autumn. For all my other readers, Louise has built an amazing membership site at it’s worth checking out.

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