These last few months many of us have experienced sub-zero temperatures, ice storms, blizzards, and even floods. Being headquartered just outside Chicago, we know what it’s like to step outside to get hit with -54-degree wind chills—it’s enough for anyone to want to hide away inside and cuddle up underneath a thick warm blanket and stay there until spring. That can be nice for a while, but we all know what that can lead to … cabin fever!

Hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution have conditioned our brains for outdoor activities. Studies show that prolonged time away from fresh air and sun can cause a multitude of adverse effects like seasonal depression, social withdrawal, fatigue, and weight gain. According to an article in Psychology Today, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. The good news is that you don’t need to move to the sunny tropics near the equator to find relief. Here are some tips for reducing cabin fever and increasing your overall well-being.

 

1. Connect with friends and loved ones.

Isolation is one of the leading causes of depressed moods, and when you’re cooped up inside, it’s easy to become a homebody. Have you ever said to yourself, “It’s too cold to go out tonight?” The problem is that the more time we spend inside, the more we lose motivation to go out. Re-energize your social activities. Don’t skip plans with friends and family. You might be tempted to use social media like Facebook to connect with friends, but studies show that it does not help reduce feelings of isolation. Use social media to make plans to meet friends in person, see a movie or go to a new restaurant. Don’t use social media to avoid going out.

 

2. Get a jump start on your spring cleaning

There's nothing like an organized space and a deep clean to help cure cabin fever. It also helps increase your physical activity—which is critical when you spend so much time inside. Getting an early start to your spring cleaning will also help you plan better for the more significant cleaning projects when spring weather arrives. Kitchens and Bathrooms are a great place to start. CLR® Bath & Kitchen Cleaner is an environmentally safe, multi-purpose cleaner that has a powerful foam spray formulated to cut through dirt, calcium, lime and soap scum quickly. Take a look around your faucets, showerheads, and coffee pots, do you see any hard water deposits? You can quickly and easily get them looking like new again with CLR® Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover. Use  CLR® Garbage Disposal Foaming Cleaner to deep clean your kitchen sink’s garbage disposal for a fresh, clean scent. 

 

3. Experiment with different recipes

Now that you have a clean kitchen, it's time to get cooking. Get creative and expand your culinary imagination. You may be reluctant because you’re afraid of how it might turn out, but you have time to do a little research. The amount and quality of free cooking videos online have increased substantially in the last few years. Search for a dish that you wouldn’t usually make using Google Video search and pick 4 or 5 videos to watch. You’ll find different cooks will use a variety of ingredients and methods for the same dish, but the good ones will teach you proven cooking techniques that will give you the confidence to put your own spin any recipe. Your friends and family will be begging for more. Some of our favorite cooking channels are; Food WishesAll RecipesJunsKitchenJamie Oliver, and Laura in the Kitchen

 

4. Turn your bathroom into a home spa retreat. 

Pamper yourself and turn your bathroom into a retreat. Create the perfect spa ambiance by adding a few flowering plants, calming music, and a few of your favorite scented candles. Draw a warm bath, toss in some lavender bath salts, lower the lights, then slip into soothing waters to relax and elevate your mood. 

 

5. Add a little more greenery

Bring the outdoors in by adding a variety of houseplants. They are great mood boosters because they (literally) add life, brighten up your space with color, and clean the air you breathe. Fill a large planter with a variety of textured or colorful houseplants that will be easy to care for. Get low-light plants if your home doesn’t have much natural light, such as Philodendron, Anthurium, Maidenhair Fern, Dieffenbachia, Lucky Bamboo, Pothos, ZZ Plant, or Staghorn Fern. Please note that if you have kids or pets, be sure to check if the plant is safe before bringing it into your home.

 

6. Visit your library and other indoor attractions. 
Immerse yourself in a good book, or two, or three. Many local libraries host a variety of craft, science, reading and play activities for kids. Some even have reading enrichment programs for school-aged children. Also, check out your local historical sites, museums, art galleries, or other community resources like indoor play centers, indoor pools, and school recreation programs. Ice-skating is a great winter activity that can provide a sense of accomplishment and vigorous exercise. Many rinks are open to the public.

 

7. Stock up on arts and crafts materials. 

The internet age has made it easier to avoid the “I’m bored…” mentality, but the winter months increases the risk of overdosing on too much screen time. Working on an art project is great activity parents and kids can do together and will help sustain children's interest that foster learning, creativity and a sense of competence. As an added bonus, spending a few hours on the weekend to visit your local arts and craft store provides an excellent opportunity to get out of the house, and they can provide a multitude of ideas for children of all ages. You may even discover a new hobby for you or your kids.

 

8. Take a walk

It might seem harsh, but there are always a few days in the winter months when the sun is out, and the temperatures aren’t so bad. You may be surprised to find how warm 30 degrees feels after you get accustomed to below zero temperatures. If it's snowing, release your inner child and play in the snow. Use the weather reports to plan an outing. A brisk walk in the park or even just around the neighborhood can lift your mood and give you the vitamin D your body needs. 

 

Bonus Tip: Remember Spring is just around the corner! 

Winter is almost over and blooming flowers and long sunny days are almost here! The official start of Spring is just a couple of weeks away, and you've made it through the worst of it. Hopefully! Imagine yourself under the warm glow of the sun. It works!