Coping With Cabin Fever

by Jane Ashley

UGH!!! I hate winter. It’s cold, and it’s dark, it’s windy … HELP! I’ve got cabin fever.

Cabin Fever

Yeppers, cancer patients get cabin fever and the winter blues just like everyone one. We might be more prone to feeling down, depressed, and distressed than other people. All that we seem to do is go to the chemo center or the radiation center or stay home recovering from a recent surgery. And now, it looks like all that we hear on the news is coronavirus scares. So we might be avoiding crowds a little more now.

Cancer patients can get cabin fever at any time of the year if we stay confined indoors for an extended time.

Tips for Coping with the Blues and Cabin Fever

Even if the weather outside is still frigid, there are still many ways that we can feel better and overcome that deep, dark depression that sets in after a while.

Go outside. Just walk out to the mailbox. Bundle up, and that burst of fresh air awakens your senses. Mentally embrace the outlines of the trees. Listen to the snow crunch beneath your feet. Remember that those winter rains help keep the lakes full and beautiful and our rivers flowing during the long, hot summer that will come.
Skip the news for a day. Between political ads and coronavirus, it’s just too much to listen to every day. Don’t listen and don’t read for at least one day a week so that you don’t slip into anxiety and stress over circumstances beyond your control.

Catnap In The Sunshine

Seek sunshine. Our pets are this advice down pat. Have you ever noticed how a dog or cat naps in that sunny window? Do you see them following that sunny spot on the floor? Even if you can’t go outside, move your chair to that sunny window and knit or read a book. Sunshine chases the blues away.
Exercise. You don’t have to go outside to exercise. Sign up for a yoga class. Walk on your treadmill. Or march in place to your favorite music. Exercise triggers those “feel good” endorphins.
Keep in touch. Stay in touch with friends and family even if the weather is too bad to travel. Email and Facebook keep us connected. Don’t forget to call a friend or send a card to someone who’s facing an obstacle. Being social isn’t about status-seeking — it’s about enriching friendships.
Spend some time apart from your spouse. When we’re both cooped up in the house, we can get a little bit grumpy with each other. Men miss fishing and golfing while women miss going shopping or lunch out with their friends — if we’re not careful, we might take it out on our spouse. So set aside a little “me” time and read a book or play solitaire.
Rearrange some furniture. You might have to enlist a little help, but this will give your room a new look and lift your spirits.
Exercise our brain. Crossword and picture puzzles help energize our minds. Play computer games . Get engaged in some activity to prevent boredom from sinking your spirits.
Cook comfort foods. There’s nothing like cooking your favorite comfort food. The smells of cookies baking or vegetable soup simmering on our stoves does more to lift our spirits than almost anything else. Maybe it’s eating breakfast foods for supper – bacon and eggs or pancakes and maple syrup. Indulge your inner child with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.
Wear warm clothes. As crazy as it sounds, be sure to dress in layers, wear socks and wear a warm hat (even inside) if you’ve lost your hair. Being cold and uncomfortable continues to our “misery index” while we’re in treatment. 

Shawl Or Ruana

Plan a trip. There’s nothing better than planning a vacation once you finish treatment. Start daydreaming about where you’d like to go. Look at vacation rentals. Think about what you’d like to eat when you go on that long-awaited trip.
Fight boredom. Not being able to do your favorite things because of treatment often leads to winter doldrums. Learn a new skill – YouTube is a great resource to learn how to paint, knit, or crochet . Pull out those old photographs and get them into a scrapbook. Reconnect with old friends on Facebook.
Wear red or another bright color. There’s nothing quite like a brightly-colored fleece top to lift sagging spirits.


Although the calendar says that spring arrives on March 19th, we all know that the “dreariness” may linger on well into April or even May in some parts of the country. You might also experience “cabin fever” in summer if you have to stay at home for an extended time. These tips are bound to improve your spirits.

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