Got Cabin Fever? by Shannon Lynch
Usually, at this time of year cabin fever sets in, a feeling that is associated with the winter weather and being cooped up indoors too long and leaves us looking for things to do to ward off the winter blues while we wait for spring to arrive.
The past year, however, has seemed like 12 long months of unrelieved cabin fever because of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions. We are all itching to get back to normal, to a time when we can leave the house to mingle freely with friends and family, travel without worry, eat out or go to the grocery store without a mask, and have no need to stock up on hand sanitizer or toilet paper.
We aren’t quite there yet, so what can we do in the meantime to stay busy and engaged and have some fun, too? With a quick trip around the Internet, we’ve gleaned a few ideas that may lift your spirits and banish some of that cabin fever feeling!
Make Refrigerator Art: Draw your partner, your grandkids, or your pets. Get creative with your #2 pencil, or break out the crayons and colored pens and give it a whirl. Kids draw it all the time, so why shouldn’t we? Even those who don’t consider themselves artistic can produce a few interesting pictures for the refrigerator door. Challenge your friends to do the same and then share the results over a Zoom call, one that is sure to be filled with lots of laughs!
Tackle Small Tasks: It’s easy to overlook the small tasks that help organize and simplify your life, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete one. For example, rearrange your sock draw, eliminating those with worn heels or toes, and throwing out the singles whose mates have gone missing. Take a half-hour and unsubscribe from all the email lists that clutter up your inbox. Examine the contents of your refrigerator and freezer and discard foods that are clearly beyond their “use by” date. Or organize your shopping bags into a neatly folded pile and stow them where it will be easy to grab them for your next grocery run.
Document It: On your daily walk, record what you see either through a photo on your phone or in a journal when you return home. There are lots of possibilities: photograph a single tree over a several month period to watch its evolution from bare branches to summer leaf out; jot down the birds you see or hear; notice the different doors or the types of chimneys on the houses you pass; or note the number of dogs, cats or squirrels you meet. There are countless things you can observe and record.
Get Cooking: Check out your pantry staples and cook the recipe from the back of a box or package: Nestlé’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Quaker Oats Meatloaf, Argo Cornstarch Lemon Meringue Pie and Rice Krispies Treats are some well-known ones. For inspiration, check out back-of-the-box recipes on the Internet.
Travel Internationally: On movie night, travel around the world alphabetically. Lookup a list of countries and find a movie filmed in or about each one; for example, Azerbaijan — Pomegranate Orchard; Ireland — The Commitments; Turkey — Once Upon A Time In Anatolia. For a little extra pizazz on movie night, cook a meal from the country you’ve chosen.
Read Poetry: Challenge yourself to read a poem every day and occasionally memorize one to give your brain an extra workout. Subscribe to poets.org and receive a poem a day in your inbox. Or reach for a book of poems by a favorite poet. New Hampshire poets that come to mind are Jane Kenyon, Maxine Kumin, Wesley McNair, Charles Simic, Celia Thaxter, Alice Fogel, Donald Hall, and Robert Frost.
Sky Watch: The colors of the sky at sunrise or sunset can often make you gasp in awe, and we definitely need a little bit of that in our world right now. For a few minutes, you’ve completely forgotten those cabin fever blues!
Finding activities that engage mind, body, and spirit can dispel feelings of anxiety and depression and help you better cope with on-going social distancing restrictions. Get creative, think outside the box, and most of all have some fun while you wait for life to even out and return to some normalcy.
Shannon Lynch is the Executive Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite care.
The Morrison Communities is a non-profit 501©(3) charitable community that has been providing quality healthcare to residents of New Hampshire’s North Country since 1903. For more information, go to www.themorrisoncommunities.org