Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saturday Night Cabin Fever!

From The Boston Globe
As you may know, I am from New England. We are so over the storms. Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Whatever you want to call it, we are so done. Some of us have lost power. Others, their water. Even a few, their lives. It's like The Day After Tomorrow out there.

We are all in danger of losing our minds, for a short time, to Cabin Fever.

Cabin Fever, the reaction a person or people may have when they are trapped in a small space for an extended period of time, happens to New Englanders every year. Many of us (notoriously hate the cold but are too stubborn to move,) spend an inordinate amount of time in our homes, huddled under the covers, sipping drinks that'll warm our insides. (Don't you try to tell me what to do Mother Nature!)

For those of you who don't have this yearly refresher on how to avoid going stir crazy and doing something that will threaten the continued survival of our intrepid band of survivors, I have a few tips.

How to Battle the Fever

Cabin Fever has to do with being essentially unable to leave and not having enough to do while you are trapped. Think back to rainy days when you were a kid and didn't have enough coloring books or puzzles or other distractions to keep you occupied. Multiply that by roughly a thousand.

Another major component is not getting enough fresh air or sun. I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I'm going to give you my completely layperson opinion anyhow: fresh air and sun are as essential to a healthy outlook and well-being as exercise and good food. In my experience, the worst times for Cabin Fever are those when a person has no access to the sun and cannot feel the wind on her face.

Before the Shut In Begins

Most people have never been shut in for a long time. Two weeks of being grounded doesn't count since you still went to school. If you have never been unable to leave your domicile for an extended period of time before, you will need to assess your current mental stimulants. In other words, ensure that you have enough to occupy your mind.

Keep books, magazines, puzzles, and art/craft supplies at hand. Electronic entertainment (video games, movies, tablets, computers, etc.) are good, but if losing the power means losing all your distractions, you might succumb to The Fever. Low tech options are best because if you lose the power, but have a candle or two handy, you can still read, work on puzzles, or knit.

Housework is Your Friend

Hear me out.

I don't hate housework, but I don't love it either. Generally it sits in an emotional area of begrudging acceptance: I have to do these things to be clean, comfortable, and fed. Except when I cannot get out of the house or in times of extreme agitation. Using a physical activity like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or even folding laundry to give the day a shape and a purpose is surprisingly effective.

One of the components of Cabin Fever is a sense of malaise or purposelessness that is caused by not being able to perform the chores, like going to work or picking up some groceries, one normally does. Using household tasks to fill that void can help reduce or stave off the malaise.

The same is true if I am too upset to get my feelings out in my normal Creative Activity of choice. Cabin Fever is oft characterized by irritation and unfounded annoyance or anger. Focusing irritation or emotional distress through my arms and into scrubbing the stove gives a physical outlet that writing does not. Once I've got the stove done, I'm usually able to take the remaining energy and focus it on making the lives of fictional people very difficult and, at times, equally short.

Creature Comforts

Prepare your space ahead of time for the eventuality of being there a while. Make sure you have clean clothes available, a way to stay warm should the power go out, and good food. You will want to feel clean and cozy and full, but don't eat all your vittles on the first few days. Save some of the special stuff - be it dark chocolate, honey liquor, or a fine cut of meat - so that you can savor it several times while you are lay siege to.

If you have a choice, get stuck with someone you get along with well. Being confined with someone who pleases you will prolong the time it takes to hate the way he breathes, or the way she sucks her teeth while she tries to puzzle something out, or the she twitches her nose as she stokes the fire.

Follow me on Twitter: @Anypocalypse

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