published Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Upton: Battling cabin fever this winter

It's really cold outside. I know I'm not the only one who is feeling a little pent up and boxed in. I long find some way to feel expansive in this hunker-down weather.

I called my former college roommate for ideas. When I met Marcy, she was riding around campus on her moped bike with her red curly hair billowing. A free spirit, she now resides in sunny Southern California, but she grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Out on those plains, one must learn how to not just survive the cold, but to thrive in mid-winter.

With just a twinge of nostalgia, Marcy reminisced, "My mom would melt chocolate and my sisters and I would dip everything we could find in the kitchen into it. ... My mom would sometimes give us a topic and we'd have to go and make a play about it. We'd play the entire Wizard of Oz back for my parents..."

Inspired by Marcy's stories, I came up with a few more ideas for families, singles and groups when the weather outside is frightful.

* Have a neighborhood dinner and DVD party. Invite a few neighbors over you haven't seen in a while. It'll do wonders for your mood and your sense of community.

* Use creativity to minimize media. Come up with easy activities for your children each day they are confined to the house. One day could be an attempt to build something out of household materials, another could be devoted to writing a humor story, create a video log, or a cartoon. Another could be a team-building activity like bedroom tent-building contest or a race on all fours down the hallway.

* Older children and teens may enjoy creating items on the computer. These activities can be shared with the entire family to build the warm fuzzies right in your living room.

* Cook it up! Experts say people should actually eat a little more in winter and less in summer. So why not teach your children how to cook a meal to ward off the cold? Making a homemade soup is a good start.

* If it snows, enjoy every minute of it. Sled, roll, throw, create snowmen, snow cream and snow angels.

Why not continue this list at your house? We'll compare notes in the spring. For now, I've got some things to do.

Tabi Upton, MA, is a therapist at CBI/Richmont Counseling Center. Email her at tabiupton@bellsouth.net.

about Tabi Upton...

Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.

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