Cabin fever: Dealing with the relentless grip of a Wisconsin winter
By Patricia Baer
We are about halfway through January, and I am starting to feel the effects of the cold and snowy winter we have experienced so far. Plummeting temperatures have not deterred me from running needless errands that have curiously become urgent tasks for completion.
I no longer wait for the snow to stop falling or the wind to die down before hauling my snow blower out of the garage. I look for excuses to call people when sending a quick text or email would suffice. When lacking these chores, I crash on the sofa with an afternoon nap. (OK, this last one is nothing new, but I find I have less resistance to the siren call of a midday snooze lately.)
According to Merriam Webster, cabin fever is defined as “an unhappy and impatient feeling that comes from being indoors for too long.” It can result in a person becoming restless, irritable, and prone to sleeping more. A cure for cabin fever, not surprisingly, is to get outside for a while and enjoy nature.
I have always been a person strongly influenced by the healing effects of nature. A long walk in the woods improves my mood instantly. Even a short trek around the block can perk me up. Trapped by the cold weather and not being free to open windows to allow a breath of nature to breeze through the house is a sentence of confinement that feels unbearable at times.
I often find myself wondering how early settlers survived Midwestern frontier winters, folks isolated on the prairie without televised weather forecasts to reassure them that the blinding snowfall would end eventually, the bitter cold preventing most from making contact with their family or neighbors. The first winter in the wilderness must have felt like the end of the world to some.
Fortunately, we have the modern distractions of cable and the internet to occupy our time and keep us connected as we anxiously wait for the return of the summer sun or at least for the weather to warm up to temperatures more friendly to winter activities. I am eagerly looking forward to the next time we reach a balmy 30 degrees, so I can go for a stroll or maybe finally try snowshoeing like I have told myself I would for several winters now.
The activity really will not matter as long as I have a chance to be outdoors and shake loose from the grip of this pesky cabin fever.