Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Cures for Cabin Fever

Monday, January 27, 2014

As most of you know, this is my first winter back on the East coast in seven years. Southern California had its good and bad points. I missed the changing seasons while we were there but one thing that I didn't miss was the winter blahs. San Diego is sunny year round, and returning to the cold and gray of D.C. has been quite the adjustment. Growing up in North Carolina I often suffered from cabin fever, aka seasonal depression, during the colder months. It wasn't anything too dramatic, just an overall feeling of lethargy coupled with restlessness. I know that sound like a contradictory combination but it's the best way I know how to explain it. I want to be able to get out and do stuff but I lack the motivation to make it happen.

I've been thinking about the best ways to battle the blahs lately. I did a little research and came up with the list below. If you're feeling the same way then these suggestions might help lift your spirit as well. It's definitely worth a try.

Stay Active'

Just because the cold keeps us mostly indoors doesn't mean we have to become total couch potatoes. Exercise, whether light or intense, has been proven to boost serotonin levels, leading to a more balanced and happier mental state. Get the blood flowing with some yoga or have a dance party with your kids in the living room. It will definitely help battle the blues. 

Eat Good Mood Foods 

Just like exercise, there are certain foods that have been found to help lift our mood. Here's a list of some of those good mood foods.

Vitamin C
Pinapple, orange juice, broccoli, brussel sprouts, red and green peppers and strawberries.

Folic Acid
Asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, oatmeal, dark leafy greens

Magnesium
Almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, tofu, wild rice

Vitamin B12
Clams, milk, yogurt, salmon, sardines, chicken

Vitamin B6
Avocados, baked potatoes (with skin), bananas, yellow fin tuna, steamed green beans

Brave the Great Outdoors

Even though it can seem daunting, taking a hike through the snow (or even walking around the block) can make a world of difference when you've been cooped up inside for too long. When I was growing up we would go swimming in the river long before the summer sun had warmed it up to a reasonable degree. It was icy cold and I couldn't stay in for more than a minute but once I jumped out, talk about feeling alive! Let the fresh air work that same kind of magic on you. Even if you freeze your ass, at least you'll feel a renewed sense of energy. 

Start a hobby or home project

Having a project to work on is another great way to avoid getting bogged down during the winter months. Take up knitting or learn to play an instrument. The process will make the time go by faster and the outcome is super rewarding. 

Stay Social

Although it is tempting to switch into bear mode and completely hibernate during the colder months, resist the urge to hide-away from others. Staying social can save your sanity. Host a dinner party or meet up with friends at a cafe. The periodic contact with others will make you feel less alone and disconnected.

Find the right scent

It might sound silly but certain scents are said to have a profound affect on our moods. Lemongrass, for example, always lifts my spirit. Here are a few other scents you might want to consider trying.

Lavender Oil 
This oil relaxes you, producing a restful, peaceful sensation.
Lemon Oil
Lemon's pungent scent awakens and refreshes your senses. It can also lift your mood and help you concentrate.
Lemongrass Oil 
Used as an antidepressant, lemongrass oil will fortify the nerves and uplift the mood. (I like adding a few drops to my bath water.) 
Orange Oil
In addition to its invigorating scent, orange oil is a great antidote for feeling sluggish. It has also been used to reduce stress.
Bergamot Oil 
This spicy and somewhat sweet smelling oil is used to help lift depression and calm fear and anxiety. 
Myrrh 
Myrrh has an earthy yet spicy quality to it. It's rich, dark scent can be used as a stimulant. 
Ginger
This zippy scent energizes the spirit and can also be used to combat loneliness and depression.
Marjoram
This comforting scent is oh so cozy. Reminiscent of nutmeg, it is perfect for warming you up on those chilly days. It also encourages a restful sleep. 

Take a Vacay


When all else fails, try to get away for a while. Book a trip to somewhere warm in the hopes that upon your return you'll have enough sunshine in your reserves to get you through to spring. 

Cue the Mood Lighting

I haven't used one of these before but I've heard great things about therapy sunlamps. Supposedly they do a great job of mimicking the sunshine and can severely reduce seasonal depression

Set a goal


Staying motivated is key to feeling good. Whether your goal is to write everyday or to clean out your closet. Figure out what it is you want to do and follow through. It will give you a sense of accomplishment which is the perfect antidote for feeling down.


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