Family

Feeling cabin fever? You're not alone

Don't be ashamed.

If you've found yourself sitting in your car in a quiet corner of a well-lit parking lot, swaddled in scarves, gripping a warm beverage and soaking in the sweet sound of silence — it's OK.

An uninterrupted stretch of snow days and housebound kids this week in Central Kentucky have led even the most even-tempered, tolerant and mild-mannered grown-ups to crave a little break to soothe their cabin fever.

But some stolen moments of solitude are not your only option.

Virginia Luftman, a member of the clinical faculty in the University of Kentucky's department of psychiatry, said there are some small changes that can have big effects.

Luftman said one of the underlying causes of that unease that comes with being cooped up might be surprising: the steady temperature of staying indoors.

Changing temperatures from hot to cold or cold to hot revs up the metabolism and gives a natural boost of energy.

Going for a short walk, even to take the garbage out or retrieve the newspaper, can help spark some much-needed motivation for adults and kids.

It's easy to slide into a binge-watching TV coma when the temps are so frigid, and Luftman suggested trying to find something productive to do. It doesn't have to be a huge achievement: maybe cleaning out a drawer or filing bills. You will feel better, she said, if you've accomplished something.

Also, she said, use this time as an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with children. Again, it doesn't have to be high-concept activities: Monopoly, card games and puzzles or whipping up a nice batch of brownies can help make a snow day memorable. Get started on homemade Valentine's Day cards or trot out old standard diversions that cost nothing — like hangman, tick-tack-toe or charades.

The Explorium of Lexington children's museum is opting for the first time to offer snow day camps. Executive Director Lee Ellen Martin said with next week's weather predicted to be much like this week, she saw a need.

"I'm a mom and I've got friends who are moms and it is getting tough," she said. Explorium has the facilities and a staff trained to work with kids, so it seemed like a good opportunity to help the community.

"It might be crafts, it could be experiments or games," she said, "but it will be fun."

Humans aren't the only people suffering from cabin fever.

Dogs can get a little crazy when they are cooped up, too. Stuart Howard said all the bad weather has been good for his business, Pawsitively Paradise Dog Resort.

Usually, he said, the beginning of the year is slow but dog owners know their charges crave some social time with their puppy pals. "They just need it," he said.

Plus, he said, pet owners face some challenges that other parents don't: A dog suffering from cabin fever might "chew up your table leg or something like that."

That's something, hopefully, most kids won't do.

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