Cabin Fever

17 Ways to Overcome Cabin Fever in Madison

Published on February 5th, 2014
By Jennifer Oppriecht

It’s the time of year when every Wisconsinite wonders why on earth we decided to live in this arctic climate.  But instead of packing the bags and heading south (which is something we’ll discuss next week), we’d like to provide you with 17 tips on how Madison natives can overcome cabin fever.

1. Go outside.  Sounds obvious, right?  It’s not always an easy thing to do – especially when it’s 25˚ below zero.  Don’t let the weatherman win: find a destination and go do something!  Bundle up and visit some of the fantastic indoor sights Madison has to offer.  Here’s a sampling from a previous post about finding the fun here in Mad-town during the winter.

2. Soak up the sunshine.  Part of the gloom that accompanies the winter doldrums is due to a lack of Vitamin D, which we normally get from sunshine.  So find a window that streams in the sunlight and spend some time there.  Cozy up with a book, your PC, an iPad – whatever it takes.  Get it where you can.

3. Redecorate with lively colors.  Okay, it’s dark and frigid outside.  Why not liven up things inside?  Put some bright cheery colors on the walls, or brighten up your décor – anything you can do to make things more lively.

4. Have friends over.  It can be easy to hibernate and isolate yourself from friends during winter’s deep freeze.  All the more reason to host a get-together and have some fun.  The more the merrier.  A get together will also take your mind off the cold.  If you don’t know anyone in your building, here are some tips on how to meet people at your new apartment.

5. Start an indoor plant collection.  Don’t have any house plants? Now is a perfect time to see if you have a green thumb.  To help you get started we put together a post on the ideal house plants for apartments: Check it out.

6. Check with a doctor.  If you’re seriously bummed by the cold weather, you may have more than just a bout of cabin fever.  Seasonal affective disorder is a very real condition.  Consult with a physician if you feel like you’re clinically depressed and you just can’t function normally.

7. Organize your apartment.  Instead of just staring at your apartment, why not organize it?  Look at those closets, the kitchen, and the bedroom.  Are you overflowing with stuff?  It’s too cold to do anything else, so make the most of your time and organize and overhaul.  Check out our Pinterest board for ideas on organizing your apartment.

8. Start spring cleaning NOW.  Why do we even have spring cleaning?  When the weather finally turns nice, Wisconsinites want to go outside, not stay indoors and clean toilets.  Do your spring cleaning today.

9. Clean up your computer files.  If you’re going to tidy up the apartment, why not do the same for all those computer files you have scattered here and there on your hard drive?  Backup, delete and streamline, so when you start getting active again, you’ll be more efficient.  Here’s a helpful how-to video to get you started.

10. Work out.   Your apartment or college might have a workout facility you can use for free, but if not Madison has plenty of athletic facilities you can sign up with.  Click here for a list of Madison area athletic facilities – most will let you try it for a week before you buy a membership. If you decide to join click here to see if you can get a membership for less.

11. Try yoga or dance classes.  It’s easy to get sedentary when temperatures heads south.  Branch out with some new types of movement.  Salsa dancingYogaBelly dancing?  There are opportunities all over Madison – try something new!

12. Read a book…for pleasure.  There’s no better way to escape the cold than through a great book.  Check out the top reads for college students and the New York Times Bestseller lists for great mental escapes.


13. Learn to cook.  When in doubt, EAT!  But don’t just prepare the same old, same old.  Look up a new recipe, try a new wine, and hey, while you’re at it, have some friends over to sample what you whip up.

14. Call old friends.  Make a list of all those high school friends, relatives, and business contacts you’ve always wanted to catch up with but never make the time for.  You can brighten your day and rekindle old relationships with one call.  (People do still use the phone for talking, don’t they?)

15. Build the family tree.  Wondering where you came from?  How about checking out some of the online sites that will help you trace your lineage?  It’s a fun way to help you connect with family members online.  Websites like are ready to help.

16. Create your own film festival.  Organize a group of friends and have each person pick a movie they want to see; then plan a series of outings to go see each one.  We’re nearing Oscar season, so you may also want to add any contenders to your list. After each movie get dinner or coffee so you can discuss each film.

17. Volunteer.  Last, but certainly not least, is helping others.  There are a number of places in Madison where you can give the gift of you and volunteer your time. has a number of listings – check it out.

Okay, that’s 17 ideas to get your started.  The eighteenth way to solve cabin fever, which we didn’t include, it to write a blog post about ways to solve cabin fever.  It worked for us ; )

Cabin fever

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