Written by: Christopher Newgent, Marketing Director & Hoosier-at-Heart
Last year, I packed up a U-haul and pointed my wheels south out of Indianapolis towards the lush hills of Chattanooga. As an avid rock climber and outdoors enthusiast, I came in search of boulders, backpacking trails—and kinder winters.
Indiana winters are no joke. Not enough snowfall for any sort of fun winter sports and not enough elevation to bask in the beauty of any snow-capped mountains. What Indiana winters do have is gray—more shades of gray than Ireland has shades of green.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Indiana, but let’s just say…you have to find your own ways of making the most of the winter months.
Every February, I’d pull out all the stops to find creative ways to get out of my house and sweat out the cabin fever. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites in case you're feeling a little feverish yourself.
1) Picnic at the botanical gardens
I was lucky to have a botanical garden near my office in Indy, and in the winter, I’d go there fairly regularly over lunch and sit on a bench in the greenhouse. I would eat my sandwich in a t-shirt, enjoying the sunlight and humidity.
Even if you don’t have something like this in your area, find a local greenhouse or nursery where you can just go and browse among the plants and enjoy the sunshine. Some nurseries even have fun classes on making faerie gardens or succulent pots, so you get to enjoy the sun, a good dose of creative spark, and a nice bit of green plant life to take home with you.
2) Plan a vacation
Even if the vacation is months away, just the act of planning a vacation gets you out of the winter mindset and expectant of the warmer, sunnier days to come. Heck, research has even shown that planning a vacation often leaves a person happier than the vacation itself. (And if your vacation involves some travel, don’t forget to get yourself some compression socks.)
3) Be a tourist in your own city
Fact: we take the city and region around us for granted. Just for giggles, I’d plan entire weekends where I just went around and did the super-cheesy touristy stuff Indy had to offer. I even booked a room at a local bed & breakfast, just to get out of my house for a couple nights and experience the city from a different home base. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to shake up your local perspective and not take yourself too seriously.
4) Rearrange your space
Come up with a new way to arrange your living room. Move your bed to the other side of the room to give yourself a new view from your bedroom window. Paint your kitchen a sunny yellow to give you a little burst and glow.
Rearranging the space you spend so much time in is an easy (and free) way to give yourself a lift of surprise and newness in your day. I love coming home from work having forgotten that I’ve rearranged my living room—and then feeling like I’m walking into a whole new house. I also might just have a really bad memory?
5) Do something new (and active)
Find a new way to get out of your house and move your body. Check out a local climbing gym. Take ballroom dancing classes. Be open to new experiences. Do you know how long it took me to finally try yoga? And once I did, I was like, “Okay. Yeah. That was pretty cool.”
It doesn’t even have to be that active. Go bowling with your friends. Join a Ping-Pong club. Grab drinks at your local dart bar and have the bar champion teach you how to actually throw darts. Whatever. Just get out of your home and do a fun new thing that engages your body and brain in a new way.
Because ultimately, that’s what “cabin fever” is—boredom from a cold, dark winter routine. To beat it, you just need to engage yourself and your surroundings in a new way. Shift your perspective. Stand on your desk and shout, “O, Captain, my captain!” Open those eyes and see the world in all its shining, shimmering, snow-bound wonder.
Spring is right around the corner, friend. But let’s not live our lives looking constantly around the corner—let’s live them today. Let’s live!