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01 Feb

Often times during the winter months, people get a case of what is known as ‘Cabin Fever’. Do you suffer from that affliction? According to http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cabin-fever.htm, cabin fever is “not an actual disease as the name suggests, but rather is a state of restlessness, depression and irritability brought on by an extended stay in a confined space or a remote, isolated area.” The symptoms are often brought on by a lack of environmental stimulation which can have real, tangible side effects.

Historians speculate that the term cabin fever was first used to describe early U.S. settlers who experienced long winters in their log cabins, snowed in until the spring thaw. A great example of this is the movie The Shining by Stephen King depicting how isolation can drive a person mad. “The family in the film is holed up in a remote hotel resort, snowed in until spring. Add isolation, lack of entertainment and a supernatural presence, and madness ensues.”

So what helps these ‘symptoms’ of cabin fever you ask?  Experts say reading, board games, and card games may help, but getting outdoors and engaging in physical activity may be the only real “cure.”

As you may guess, I love the outdoors and the sense of well being that it brings to my soul.  This winter is different for me though.  Having had a total knee replacement in October and two total hip replacements since December 2014, I am wary of taking early morning solo walks outdoors this winter.  But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying environmental stimulation.  I just do it through a window by observing the variety of birds at our feeders, including cardinals, bluejays, titmice, chickadees, house finches, goldfinches, downy and hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers throughout the day.  One or two persistent hawks frequent the yard in watch for a non-suspecting bird to snatch up for a meal.  Eleven squirrels at once both on and under the feeders add variety and humor just by watching the gymnastics they perform to achieve their goal……to climb a greased pole to access the bird seed and nuts.  And then we have up to twelve deer at a time wander through our yard, stopping by the pond for a drink of water before foraging for their sustenance. 

While getting my environmental stimulations by watching through a window isn’t my first choice, this year it seems to be working.  That’s one of my methods this year for combatting cabin fever.  I’d appreciate hearing about yours. 

 


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