Looking for ways to stop cabin fever
November 5, 2017 8:19 AM   Subscribe

I betray my Canadian heritage by not dealing with cold well so am spending a lot of time indoors lately and am looking for examples of what people do with themselves in the winter. What do you do to keep yourself from being bored when life prevents you from going outside?

My fibro + bum hip don't agree with winter very well and here on Vancouver Island it is getting cold (for here). I'm not used to this change in climate and can't deal with it so I'm huddling inside but also aware that I have a tendency to isolate and feel down this time of year unless I get involved in a hobby or some new obsession. I'm running out of hobbies or things that give me energy and make me feel happy. What do you mefis do when it's dark at 4:30 and you've done all the things that you know how to do?

I already: walk my dog, read for hours, knit, occasionally watch Netflix, drink copious amounts of tea, surf the net. But I find myself having days where I am tired of all that and actually feeling bored. Which is weird for me as I usually can spend weeks alone and feel happy and fulfilled. I'm a major introvert so am looking for things you can do alone (or with a dog). Thanks.

Please, no suggestions of winter sports. It's cold and I hate it and it sucks and hard when you have a cane. Did I mention I HATE WINTER?
posted by kanata to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Do you like to cook? I enjoy spending cold weekend winter days making big batches of homemade soup and then freezing in individual portions. Multiple benefits here—kitchen gets nice and warm on a cold day, time is spent doing something I enjoy AND that’s productive, and on future busy and/or tiring days I get to enjoy a healthy, home cooked meal with no effort.
Plus, your dog may also benefit if you “accidentally” drop some dog-friendly ingredients.
posted by bookmammal at 8:30 AM on November 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

What about picking up another craft? You say you knit, so what about crocheting if you don't know how to do that already? There's also sewing which has practical applications, jewelry making, etc.

This is unrelated to your current hobbies, but being stuck indoors during winter seems like a good opportunity to learn how to play a musical instrument. In the places I live in the US, you can usually rent an instrument for not too much money to get started. Obviously, lessons would cost money, but with the help of books/the internet, you can get started on your own, especially if you have any background with this. For example, some years ago, I taught myself how to play the violin.

I also recently enjoyed teaching myself how to edit movies. I just use imovie which comes with my macbook.

On preview, cooking is a good suggestion. I especially enjoy baking, although it's not quite as practical. You could even learn to make your own dog food, if that appeals.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thirding cooking -- especially baking! Being in a nice warm kitchen helps my pain a *lot* when it's cold and damp. For a while I got into baking bread in the wintertime, because kneading dough was a good shoulder workout and helped me deal with weather-related muscle tightening. (dang, i need to do that again this year.)

Do you like candles or soaps/scrubs/bath bombs? Making your own can be a fun hobby, and then you get useful stuff at the end which you can enjoy as little treats: lighting up the house with warming candles, soaking in a nice hot bath...

Would visual art be of interest? You can pick up drawing tablets relatively cheaply these days, and there's decent free drawing software to be had online. It's all the fun of watercolours but you don't have to buy supplies or clean up afterward.
posted by halation at 8:44 AM on November 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Declutter and deep clean. Redecorate a room or two.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Editing Wikipedia? (unless that's already covered under surfing in general). It's pretty easy to get obsessed with finding better citations etc in my experience. Citation Hunt is a good way to start.
posted by paduasoy at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I get big into redecorating & decluttering every winter, which might be harder with a bum hip, but sewing up some new curtains or painting some art for the walls might make you feel less trapped as you're changing things up.

I've also gotten into growing plants inside through the winter, it's a nice connection to the outside without going out. A few grow lights and I have an african violet "collection" (is 4 plants a collection?) I like to fuss with and my herbs, random plants and a few succulents I grow under lights. Between the plants & all the extra light flooding my house from the grow lights it cheers me up no end.
posted by wwax at 9:10 AM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 to the bread baking suggestion above. There's something pleasingly tactile about working with dough, it warms up the house, it can fill as little or as much time as you want based on whether you're taking a simple approach or making something complex, and when you're done you have freshly baked, warm bread!
posted by asphericalcow at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

One of the things that helps me continue to feel like Me as I become frailer and more housebound (post polio syndrome and aging in my case) is to find ways to volunteer for organizations that mean something to me. I can never guarantee how I will feel on any given day, so can't do much in person, but there are many other ways to support a cause. For me, especially, Books To Prisoners (there is a branch in Vancouver) and Days for Girls. Doing useful work, even if it's only posting info to spread the word for a cause, lightens my heart.

On a lighter note, how do you feel about jigsaw and other puzzles? They leave me cold, but one of my friends claims she couldn't make it through a Pacific Northwest winter without several 1,000 piece puzzles with sunny pictures on them.

I also like to plunge deeply into something -- something that scratches the Complete It itch in me. Currently, it's reading all of Dickens and watching as many Ronald Colman movies as I can get my hands on. (The library is a life saver.) I just finished learning all about the Scopes trial, and I'm getting very curious about clouds.

And, of course, answering questions on AskMeFi.
posted by kestralwing at 9:17 AM on November 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Was going to suggest having people over for dinner until I hit the 'things you can do alone' part. Oops. But, if you do ever feel like seeing someone, it is a nice pastime: you spend time in a warm kitchen with wine and candles, and they get to be the one to deal with the cold. Most people hibernate quite a bit where I am so a cold-weather invite over for just about anything is well-received.

I have bum hips but still concur with redecorating/decluttering. There are a lot of things one can do without hiking out in the cold to a craft store or Ikea. Don't throw out or donate the old textiles: cut/tear away and start working on a rag rug. I have a red pepper I hand-sewed out of scraps with painstaking care when I was 17 and had just moved x-country and had yet to find a job and was living in a nearly bare apt without a dime. (It's actually kind of a cheerful thing to look at now: I survived that miserable period!)

During an extended illness and a surgical recovery that left me totally housebound, I read all I could about weird topics. Skip from item to item in a field of interest in Wikipedia and wait until something draws you in; become an expert on the history of Pitcairn or some such. (On preview: what kestralwing just suggested!)
posted by kmennie at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another idea--what about Postcrossing?
I did this for about a year awhile back and it was really fun--you send and receive postcards to and from people all over the world. It's FREE (aside from the cost of postcards and stamps) and since you're looking for things to do alone, it's a great way to connect (although briefly) with others without actually having to physically interact with them.
You can buy postcards online from Zazzle and CafePress and Dover, and in the US you can buy stamps online (not sure about Canada).
Added bonus--you get the anticipation of wondering what will be in the day's mail delivery!
posted by bookmammal at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here's a list of things I do: Knit, crochet, subversive cross-stitch, write, color, paint (watercolor and digital), papercraft, draw, write GOTV postcards, sew, play video games.
posted by xyzzy at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2017

Reading for hours sounds lovely.

I find that I start to get restless and bored if I haven't done anything somewhat creative in a while. It doesn't have to be ambitious, just something that lets me spend mental energies in a not completely passive way. Some things that scratch the itch for me:
  • Making a website for a personal hobby
  • Conlanging
  • Building things in the Sims
  • Writing fanfiction or original fiction
  • Making mixtapes - with cover art
  • Writing letters on fancy stationery and decorating them
My mom keeps a book journal, which she really enjoys. She gets a nice journal that's a pleasure to write in, and good pens, and writes something about each book she reads.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:43 AM on November 5, 2017

Pilates, yoga and SAUNA at the gym. Every day if needed.
A good teacher will do great with your health conditions. Don’t bother to return to a class that doesn’t understand / respect your condition.
You will feel so good. Warm and strong.
posted by littlewater at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2017

Another thought: indexing
posted by Sassyfras at 9:52 AM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

As kestralwing mentioned, jigsaw puzzles - I'll go through several of these every winter, when I work fewer days. Also, Sassyfras just beat me to it, but going down the rabbit hole of online genealogy is always fun for me, you can start with a free site like Familysearch, then move on to subscription sites like Ancestry.com (I think they might have a free trial).

Also: birdwatching (I've got a great set-up this year with the feeders where I can watch the wildlife from my kitchen window), making endless playlists in my itunes with different themes (winter or holiday especially).
posted by plasticpalacealice at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2017

I feel that something a bit challenging gives a great sense of accomplishment. Maybe learn something online? Edx has a huge vault of uni level courses.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2017

You like to read and watch Netflix already, and your post shows you can write well, so--how about a reviews blog?

I like to keep track of and write reviews of books I've read (I use GoodReads) and I also write the occasional movie review on my blog. It satisfies my itch to catalogue and critique.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2017

I hate it when it gets dark early! I sometimes escape into an MMO world. I play WoW in the winter and then make myself quit in the spring. (My house didn't actually get any cleaner after I quit.)
posted by puddledork at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2017

How about helping Project Gutenberg get their books online at Distributed Proofreaders? I did this a lot when I was on the RV Road. They also have an audio book project.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:03 PM on November 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Next time I have a winter, I'm taking up weaving.
posted by aniola at 1:08 PM on November 5, 2017

Would you enjoy a fishtank? I had a really low maintenance one with a couple of guppies, a live plant, and a little snail, and it was really fun to watch. Guppies have live births, which are exciting.

If you like animals, fostering a cat- perhaps a pregnant cat- is really fun, too. Kittens are a bit nuts but you can mostly confine them to one room, and they are super cute.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:26 PM on November 5, 2017

Is there a gym you could join? Sometimes it's good to just get out of the house.

What about a book club? Either one in person or you could start one that uses an online message board.

Watch the great British bake off and try to recreate the recipes!
posted by raccoon409 at 2:03 PM on November 5, 2017

I recently took up the ukulele. It's fun because you see the results of lessons & practice immediately. My power has been out all day, so just today, I've gotten considerably better at it.
posted by JanetLand at 2:24 PM on November 5, 2017

I would agree with people who say that something productive would be nice, so you feel like you're putting something out into the world. Proofreading at Project Gutenberg would be the one I picked, but there are also sites where you can transcribe old documents that have been scanned.

Or you could even try a work-from-home-in-your-spare-time jobs. (Full disclosure: I work for a company that hires people in that capacity.) There are places where you can get work on your computer that you do when you choose and as much as you choose, so you can do it just when you feel like it. Bringing in a little pocket money and knowing that you're accomplishing something necessary can be really great.
posted by gideonfrog at 2:44 PM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by freethefeet at 5:54 PM on November 5, 2017

Take an online dog training class. Tricks, rally, rallyfree, obedience, and nosework can all be done indoors and with physical limitations. Fun for you and your dog, and also kind of social. I've stayed friends with many people I've met in online classes over the years.
posted by HotToddy at 10:20 PM on November 5, 2017

Would you consider taking a course online? The kind with a teacher and discussion groups, I mean. It could be something like creative writing or any type of course.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:12 AM on November 6, 2017

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. They've given me a few ideas. I haven't thought of an online course. With just a high school education that I barely squeaked by in the past when I've tried to find things to do online, I've been too afraid to do it or have had barriers in the way. I like the idea of doing something productive as being on disability leaves me feeling a lot of the time that I'm not worthwhile to society so I'll look into those options. Baking is out cause ugh did that for a career but cooking is a good idea. I definitely need to improve my skills as I have none and have tons of anxiety about cooking certain things (sure I'm going to poison myself).

Last winter I got through it by reading the entire history of the royals in England one by one through up to Queen Elizabeth. That scratched some weird itch I had. I've been casting around for another historical thing I'm interested in (already did the Russian royalty) so looking at Wikipedia to find something might be a good idea. Thanks for your help again as always.
posted by kanata at 9:30 AM on November 6, 2017

After your update, I wonder if you'd like the Rex Factor podcast. They reviewed all the English monarchs and are now going through the Scottish ones. Fairly light-hearted.

Also, building on TheGoodBlood's suggestion, Future Learn has good free history courses from UK universities, as well as other subjects. You might want to be a bit careful though if you're the sort of person who could feel you are participating "wrongly". It's possible to get too into feeling you have to read all the thousands of comments by other participants, for instance, then it can get a bit overwhelming.
posted by paduasoy at 3:43 PM on November 6, 2017

« Older My Whole Apartment Stinks After Cooking. Help!   |   DC > Orlando > ?Relaxing-Semiadventurous-Nature? >... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.