Tag Archives: weather conditions

How I Fight Cabin Fever in Frigid, Snowy Chicago

Cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period. Cabin fever describes the extreme irritability and restlessness a person may feel in these situations. Wikipedia

Regular readers know that this blog emanates from Chicago in the Midwestern heart of the U.S. While readership extends to over 18 countries, the majority of you dwell right here in the U.S. of A. So, many of you are suffering similar frigid weather this winter as a result of the polar vortex(es) or is the plural polar vortices, vorti? See what cabin fever does to your mind.

Here are just a few of the weather facts from Chi-town:

1. Chicago’s 59.6 inches of snow is more than six times last year’s 9.2 inches and nearly three times normal annual snowfall.
2. This is the eighth snowiest winter on record since 1884-85.
3. There have been 20 days at or below zero fahrenheit so far. This is the most since 1983-84 and winter still has more than a month to run. Only one of the past 143 years has recorded more zero days. Stats courtesy of Tom Skilling’s Chicago Weather Center blog.


The relevance of the cold along with the snow is that most of the snow that fell this winter is still on the ground. There are two foot deep mounds of snow in downtown Chicago.

So, what’s a boy to do? Bike riding is virtually out of the question. Most outdoor activity is virtually out of the question.

Here are a few of my fixes. Reading. I have read a number of really good books including three Thomas Perry novels: The Butcher’s Boy, Sleeping Dogs and The Informant. Perry is a superb novelist. These are not just thrillers, but full-fleshed novels. The Butcher’s Boy series is about a professional assassin who works for the mob. He gets stiffed by them after a job and the three novels depict in detail the ramifications of that.

I also spent much of Super Bowl Sunday watching all the SB preliminaries offered by the various networks topped off by the game itself.

Since weather conditions pretty much precluded biking, I have taken to climbing stairs in my highrise home. I started with 15 flights and have progressed to 24 flights twice a day. For details please check out my four part series of posts on this exercise starting with Stair Climbing Part One. Remember, you still need to exercise regardless of the weather conditions.

But, part of the pain of cabin fever is just being cooped up inside. You absolutely have to get out of your apartment/house.

I live 15 miles from Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino and managed a couple of visits to those hallowed halls.

A good remedy for cabin fever is just to take a walk. Actually, one of my great pleasures in winter is layering, that is wearing several layers to provide insulation against the cold. I am a big fan of Eddie Bauer outdoor wear. I have Eddie Bauer hoodies, down jackets, vented shell jackets, windbreakers, etc., not to mention long underwear. You need to bundle up when it is frigid outside, but I recommend it.

Check out Cold Weather Exercise Tips and A Cold Weather Exercise Tip for more.

A couple of years ago when the blizzard hit Chicago, I wrote – A walk after the blizzard of 2011.

I have mentioned the courses I take from The Great Courses. I don’t know how many posts I have written based on ideas from these courses.

Listening to lectures from the following: The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works How the Stay Fit as you Age and Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders to name a few, helped fight that closed in feeling. I have mentioned these courses repeatedly throughout the four years of writing this blog and recommend them highly.

Almost last but not least, I have been writing blog posts. Hope you were able to find something useful.

Finally, don’t let cabin fever get you down and start bingeing on junk food and letting your exercise habits go down the drain. Eat less; move more will get you there. Don’t let the weather knock you off your scheduled workouts. You don’t want to get into a negative spiral that will damage you physically as well as emotionally.

Those are a few of the arrows in my quiver for fighting cabin fever. Feel free to share some of whatever you are doing to keep your sanity this frosty season.



Filed under biking, cabin fever, Exercise, Weight