7 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

Don’t let the winter doldrums get you down.
Staying active and social can help.
Staying active and social can help. / Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images
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Once the holidays are over, cabin fever can start creeping in, robbing people of restful sleep and causing a feeling of claustrophobia and unease. Though not technically a medical condition, cabin fever often comes with symptoms that include restlessness, irritation, and lethargy that can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Here are some ways to beat cabin fever this season.

1. Start a Game Night

photo of a family playing a board game in front of a fireplace
Fireplace not required. / AleksandarGeorgiev/E+/Getty Images

When winter hits, many people shutter their doors and hunker down until the robins return, putting social gatherings to the side. While slowing down in the winter is natural, keeping a social routine in the mix may fend off cabin fever. This could include establishing a regular game night with your family or some friends. Bust out your favorite board games (some of which may even be worth a small fortune!) or opt for something virtual. If games run their course, starting a movie night is another great option for those who are looking for ways to beat cabin fever. 

2. Get Outside—Even When It’s Cold

Two people walking their dog in the snow
Bundle up! / Dan Kitwood/GettyImages

Those who have an aversion to chilly temperatures are less inclined to leave their warm homes when winter comes. It’s important not to stay sedentary, though. Exercise has been shown to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the body. And getting sun exposure (even just a little bit of it) helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which can be handy if you struggle with cabin fever. Taking a short walk around the block, slapping on snowshoes and hitting a trail, or getting into a snow sport like skiing may help to keep your spirits high even in the dead of winter. 

3. Join a Book Club

Group of teenage girls reading books together sitting on the living room’s floor.
Reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. / LeoPatrizi/E+/Getty Images

There’s something undeniably cozy about curling up with a book next to a crackling fire while snowflakes fall from the sky. During the winter, delving into your favorite genre or trying out some new reading material is a great way to get your mind off of cabin fever. Joining a book club can help you hold yourself accountable to your reading goals—and perhaps make some new friends in the process. Social media platforms are useful places to search for like-minded bookworms; many local libraries also host a monthly book club, allowing participants to check out carefully curated titles. 

4. Book a Trip to a Warm Destination

crowds of people at a Florida beach
The beach is calling. / Anadolu/GettyImages

There’s a reason many people who live in cold climates become “snow birds” in the winter. Warm temperatures offer more opportunities to get outside, helping people stay active and motivated. When cabin fever starts taking its toll, it might be time to book a trip to a warm, sunny destination. 

5. Create (or Disassemble) a Routine

photo of a woman doing yoga in her home
It may take some trial and error to find a routine that works. / Oleg Breslavtsev/Moment/Getty Images

One way to overcome cabin fever is by re-setting the balance in your life by either disassembling or creating a new routine. People react differently to the winter doldrums. Some may struggle to maintain a routine when the temperature plummets and the sun seems to disappear, while others may become too rigid with their day-to-day activities. Reworking your routine could involve a morning meditation practice where none previously existed, or a shift in your workout habits. Those who are at a complete loss when it comes to evaluating daily habits might find journaling or therapy to be a helpful tool. 

6. Get Creative

A woman crocheting a mitten with pink and white wool.
Keep your hands busy. / Akiko Aoki/Moment/Getty Images

When the world becomes dark and dreary in the dead of winter, try to find solace in creative endeavors that bring a bit of color to the table. Picking up a small set of acrylic paints, joining a pottery class at a local recreation center, or learning how to draw or knit could be helpful outlets for those who struggle with cabin fever. Not only can creative hobbies be engaging and fun, but they’ve also been shown to reduce stress levels and increase focus. 

7. Keep a Gratitude Journal

a person writing in a spiral notebook
Take note of the little things that lift your spirits. / Kristina Strasunske/Moment/Getty Images

While the season is in its darkest, coldest chapter, one great way to bring a bit of light into the world is by remembering all the things you’re grateful for. Practicing the art of gratitude can reduce signs of depression, anxiety, and even chronic pain. While some people prefer to engage in a meditative gratitude practice, others prefer the art of keeping a gratitude journal by writing down a number of things or experiences they were grateful for having over the course of the day. This practice has become so popular that it’s even possible to find journals with prompts and images that are specifically designed to put gratitude at the forefront of your mind.