If You’re Suddenly Cranky All The Time, You May Be Suffering From Cabin Fever

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things to love about winter!

There’s Christmas and the new year, and if you’re lucky, blankets of sparkly white snow.

Unfortunately, the holidays have to end, and the snow eventually turns into a gross gray mess. Around that point, I start feeling seriously bitter about winter.

Even when you do your darnedest to stay warm and cozy, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s five degrees below zero outside, and everything is covered in a terrible layer of black ice.

You’re better off just hunkering down inside your house, only leaving when you have to go to work or you really can’t go any longer without toilet paper.

The trouble with hibernating, though, is that it can make us really, really crabby.

When you’re stuck inside your own four walls for hours and hours on end, things might start to get a little ugly.

Here are a few surefire signs that you need to get out for some fresh air right now — even if it’s so cold it freezes your nose hairs together.

What Is Cabin Fever?

Sitting on window sill watching snow
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

So what exactly is cabin fever?

It’s not exactly a precise medical condition. Rather, it’s more a collection of psychological and physical symptoms people start to experience right around the middle of winter.

For most people, it manifests as a medley of depression, anxiety, general malaise, and irritability, and usually is the result of being stuck indoors for too much time.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cabin Fever?
Symptom #1: You’re Snapping At People

Pointing and yelling at co-worker
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

All of a sudden, everybody gets on your nerves. You’re getting sharp with your husband, scolding your kids unnecessarily, or taking out your frustration on people who don’t deserve it.

Relax, it’s not your fault you turned into Oscar the Grouch when you’re normally Elmo.

Being cooped up all day can do a number on your nerves, especially because you’re deprived of vitamin D.

Symptom #2: Staying On Task Is Tricky

Getting a headache from work
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

When you’re feeling fidgety and pent up, it can be really hard to focus on the task in front of you.

Maybe you have a major quarterly report due in an hour, but you feel like you’re about to jump out of your skin and you can barely sit still.

These are major signs that you’ve been trapped inside for too long and your brain and body are begging for fresh air and exercise.

Symptom #3: You Want To Sleep All Day

Sleeping while the sun is up
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

It’s really easy to lose your sense of motivation when it’s freezing cold outside and you’re trapped indoors.

When you’re awake, you might feel depressed and lethargic, and it becomes so much easier to just sink back into a deep sleep.

In the grip of cabin fever, you might sleep really late, struggle to get out of bed in the mornings, or feel sluggish all day long.

Symptom #4: You Crave Junk Food

Eating junk food
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

When you’ve been stuck indoors for weeks on end, you may suddenly find you have an intense craving for junk food, high in carbohydrates and sugar.

This is because we’ve been known to eat when bored.

It may also be a deep-down hibernation instinct that tells us to fatten up in the cold months with quick-burning fuel like sugary carbs.

Symptom #5: You Struggle To Start Projects

Resting head on desk with laptop in front
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

You promised yourself that this was going to be the winter you learned to crochet or finally wrote the first draft of your novel.

Logically, it seems like the perfect time to embark on a new project, because you’re trapped inside without much to do.

However, if you’re experiencing cabin fever, you may have a really hard time getting started on the project because you’re over analyzing and over thinking it, and putting a lot of pressure on yourself to have it done by springtime.

Symptom #6: You Feel Sad And Withdrawn

Sitting alone in the corner of the room
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

One of the prominent symptoms of cabin fever, which is also sometimes called the winter blues, is depression.

Depression is an ailment that comes and goes for many people, but it can leave you in a catastrophic, exhausted state of despair with almost no warning.

Wintertime, when the sun doesn’t shine and the whole world is cold, can be a huge trigger for bouts of deep depression.

How Can I Treat Cabin Fever?

Sitting alone while friends are socializing
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

There’s no easy fix for cabin fever, the same way that there’s no easy fix for any other psychological ailment.

However, there’s some evidence that you can boost your mood almost instantly by just forcing yourself to go out on a walk in the sunshine, no matter how many layers you have to wear.

Prepped with that first mood boost, you should then make plans with friends and force yourself to take part, which can help pull you out of your funk and reset your mental state!

Do you tend to get down in the dumps during wintertime? Tell us about it below, and be sure to SHARE with friends this winter!