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boredAt first, the idea of being snowed in elicits notions of hot chocolate, blankets, fireside reading sessions and cozy bliss.

But that dream of marshmallow-laden heaven only gets me so far.

When it comes to snow days, I’m all in – until about noon, that is. That’s when I tend to get antsy. I either have to get out of the house, or get off my duff and do something. In my mind, the worst snow days are the ones where you sit around in sweats all day, eating junk, watching TV, and when you finally catch a whiff of yourself, you look up at the clock and realize it’s 6 p.m. Nope.

For the sake of this post, let’s define cabin fever as such:

Cab•in Fe•ver noun – The feeling of restlessness one experiences when cooped up indoors. Marked by irritability, whining, excessive lazing about and mood swings. See also: Jack Torrance, The Shining.

To combat cabin fever, I came up with a few ways to fight back against the creeping cold madness, and how to keep your brain in the game while you maintain your sane.

  1. Binge Read

So, you’re stuck at home. The overzealous snowplow churned a fresh mix of hard-packed snow and concrete right in front of your driveway. No matter what, you can’t get in to work. And – aw shucks! – your laptop is at the office.

Sounds like it’s time to dust off those books you’ve been meaning to read for years. Without the trivialities of work to get in the way, you can break those bad boys out and let your mind escape the confines of your snowbound hovel.

Good, old-fashioned books never run out of batteries, they don’t break when you drop them, they smell great, and above all else, there’s nothing like turning the last page of one you haven’t been able to put down.

  1. Binge Watch

I’ve been meaning to watch “The Wire” for years. I started “Game of Thrones,” only got three episodes in and stop watching for no reason. So, what’s the problem? Time. I don’t have the time to dedicate myself to all the entertainment opportunities out there. My personal entertainment bandwidth is maxed out. My queue is full.

But if you happen to find yourself marooned by mountains of snow, why not fire up your old friend Netflix (or streaming provider of choice) and Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor? You can always buy the latest season, but before you do, make sure you visit CanIStreamIt.com to make sure it’s not already out there for free.

But what if your Internet provider decided to take a snow day, too? No worries. When people know a snowstorm is coming, they make a run on eggs, milk and bread for…French toast I guess?

You can load up on your essentials, too. Before the storm strikes, while the weather isn’t so sloppy, drop by your local used-media store. There are deals on DVD versions of shows to be had. Even better, visit eBay or Amazon for great deals online. You’ll be set all set for snowmageddon.

  1. Get Out and Get to Work

A huge part of the blues that accompany long stretches of being snowbound is the fact that the days are short. A little dose of sunlight and a touch of physical activity can make a world of difference when it comes to cabin fever.

Whether you’re outside shoveling snow or digging out the car, a little time outside gets your blood flowing and gives you something to do. The good news is you can work toward digging yourself out, or just throw around snow for fun.

Another added benefit to stepping outside is that your neighbors are usually outside, too. It’s a great chance to take a break and get to know the people in your neighborhood. The snow also gives you both something to talk about, and who doesn’t like staying home from work?

Snow days are the best. Hands down. It’s like the stars aligned, the heavens opened up and bestowed a day or two free of charge just for living where you do. Cabin fever might be creeping its way into your house, so get outside.

  1. Get Out and Get to Playing

Go sledding, build a fort, make a snowman, etc. Channel your inner child and get outside and have some fun. No kids required!

People of all ages love rolling around in the white stuff. It’s cold, it’s fun and when you lay very still and listen, you can hear the worries of the world melt away. Try it! It’s like a cold-weather version of listening to the ocean in a conch shell.

Kids have a limitless amount of energy, but nothing tuckers them out faster than an afternoon of playing in snow, followed by hot chocolate, grilled cheese and soup.

  1. Stay Inside and Make Your Own Fun

Let’s say you really can’t get out. I mean, you’re under 15 feet of snow and tunneling out isn’t an option, you read all your books, and your Internet provider laughed at you when you said you couldn’t get a connection. Now what?

Make your own fun! There are endless ways to get creative when you can’t get outside. Just like having DVDs on hand, have some fun on hand. Pinterest is a great source for indoor activities for kids of all ages.

If you’re old enough, make a front-door beer cooler with the snow accumulation. If you’re not old enough, try pool noodle balloon volleyball or Q-tip blow darts. A little advance preparation can get your family through any snowstorm.

And speaking of which…

  1. Prepare, Ration, Repair

Although it might not seem like it right away, instances in which bad snow or rain keep you indoors have the potential to be dangerous.

When power goes out, the generators get fired up. Generators, although handy, contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning if not placed in a properly ventilated area. Don’t run them indoors. Make sure the generator is in good shape before it’s needed. And, finally, make sure you refer to your user manual for proper care, storage and usage.

When it comes to food, make sure you’ve got enough to last you through an extended stretch of time. Have a good supply of nonperishable food items on hand, and make sure it’s all rotated out every six months. Expired canned goods can make folks very sick.

Have batteries, flashlights, plenty of clothes, plenty of water and extra gas on hand. That’s a good rule of thumb for all seasons.

Finally, make sure all your equipment, from flashlights to all-terrain vehicles, are properly maintained year-round. You don’t want to be stuck in the dark to find that your batteries leaked all over the inside of your favorite flashlight.

Bid Cabin Fever Farewell

Winter can be a drag, man. Days on end without a sliver of daylight between clouds can really bring you down. But with a little advance prep, a sunny outlook and a mind for making the most of your days at home, you can keep cabin fever at bay.

So how do you keep your cabin cool when the snow starts piling up? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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