How To Beat Cabin Fever When You're Stuck Inside This Winter

Winter has finally arrived: This morning in Melbourne, the temperature was 6°C. It's cold! For some people, the first freezing winds of winter are doubly depressing — we're closing in on the shortest day of the year (June 21), which means we're not getting a good dose of sunlight and it's too cold to go outside and get some exercise and fresh air.

Photo: Garry Knight

But don't despair! Winter can be a season for hibernation, sure, but if you're clever and plan ahead, you won't necessarily start climbing the walls. This AskMetafilter question was posted by a user with mobility issues who hates the forced confinement of freezing temps and commenters chimed in with many useful suggestions on how to weather the winter with one's good spirits intact.

Below are the indoor-entertainment possibilities that resonated the most with me, but definitely check out the whole thread for even more ideas.

1. Deal with your house

Take a few evenings or a weekend and cull your closets, shelves and that pile of stuff by the door (we all have one). Or redecorate a room or sew some new pillow covers or build a bookcase. I know that nothing makes me feel more accomplished than painting a room and hauling a load of stuff to Vinnies. Sprucing up your living space provides a sense of satisfaction; it also just... spruces up your living space. Which is nice when you're trapped there.

2. Get active for a cause

Is the current political environment making you antsy? Do you want to use your time to help other people? You're not alone. And even if you can't go door-to-door and attend meetings, you can still do a lot of good work online or on your phone.

GoVolunteer will help you find volunteer opportunities in fields that interest you. If you already have a favourite nonprofit or political candidate, contact them directly and ask how you can help from home.

3. Get completist about a subject

This winter I want to learn to play a certain fiddle tune on the guitar in all 12 keys. Will I actually complete it? I doubt it. But by December I might make it through four keys, which is still better than the zero keys I know it in now. I'm also planning a personal mini-class on the Second World War, complete with documentaries and a few thick books already on my nightstand. By summer I'll basically have a PhD.

4. Host

Make people trudge through the snow to you. Put on a pot of stew, bake some bread and break out the whiskey. How do you think that people in cold climates stay social?

5. Get a penpal

Postcrossing is something I've never heard of, but it seems to be a way to have short correspondences, via postcard, with people all over the world. There are also sites that will match you with more traditional pen pals (check this post out for safety tips before you start).

6. Take an online class

Want to bone up on your art history, your calculus, your knife technique? Google around for virtual instruction in whatever subject is grabbing you. I'd probably try some kind of write-your-novel class that would force me to turn in a certain number of pages each week, but there's obviously a huge range of subjects to choose from.

7. Proofread

Project Gutenberg needs proofreaders for their scanned books. You get to read and help distribute great works of literature at the same time!

And of course there are the old cold-weather standbys, like cooking, crafting and playing music and the new cold-weather standbys, like video games and social media. Do you have a novel way of getting through a hard winter without losing your mind? Let us know in the comments!


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