The Art of Relating

with Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW, Therapist & Relationship Coach

Cabin Fever Syndrome & Your Relationship

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Okay, I really don’t know if there is anything called “Cabin Fever Syndrome”, but I think we all get the gist of what I am talking about. Gray, cold days and long, long evenings are in abundance. We almost forget what day of the week it is because the sameness of the nights all seems to run together. “There’s nothing on television tonight”, we cry, despite paying way too much for the 100 channel or more line-up on cable. We may find ourselves becoming bored and restless, perhaps eating too much because there seems to be nothing else to do. And, let’s not forget about the affect this monotony has on your relationship. Perhaps you are spending too much time together without interjecting any new creativity. Are the two of you beginning to get on each other’s nerves just a little bit and is the conversation suffering from a lack of new things to interject? If you can relate to this then try to hang on for a few more short weeks. Spend the month of February combating cabin fever and in the process putting a lot of new energy into your relationship.

First of all, both of you get off of that couch and stop aimlessly flipping through the television’s remote control, wasting endless hours until it is bedtime. Have some fun and make some plans. It’s essential in a relationship, as well as life, that you have something to look forward to and to work towards. I think it is what makes it all worthwhile. How long has it been since you planned a trip together. If you have the money to head to Hawaii, then I say great for you. I would kill to be able to go to the island of Kauai and hit their botanical garden, perhaps visit a coffee plantation and top it all off with a fantastic tour of the island by scooter. Oh well, back to reality. Otherwise, plan something small and different from anything you have yet to experience. I’m heading to Alton to hopefully catch a glimpse of the gorgeous eagles when they are supposedly at their viewing prime. I also want to take in some of the hot fish from a stand along the riverfront. Open the paper and find out what is going on. Go somewhere or do something that the two of you have never done before. Take a day trip and visit one of the many local farms that raise animals in a humane way and bring home some fresh cheese or other tasty items. It breaks the monotony of winter and provides your relationship with new things to discuss and enjoy.

Next, take up a new hobby together to enhance your relationship and break up the boredom of winter. They offer cooking classes at multiple venues such as Whole Foods, Kitchen Conservatory, The Botanical Gardens or Dierbergs. You can learn to make gourmet pizzas, Dim Sum, full-coursed Greek dinners, fantastic deserts and so much more. Better yet there are usually special classes offered right around Valentine’s Day for couples to take together. If the intellectual bent is more your style then get out your Healthy Planet and together attend a lecture on how to become more green at home, find out natural ways to combat arthritis and other ailments or gather the basics to start an organic garden or can the fruits of your labor. I don’t know about you, but I find that learning about the link between what you eat and your health to be of the utmost importance and of the utmost interest. If you love each other and would like to grow old together, then put some time and investment into learning how to increase the odds of that happening. Now that, in my humble opinion, is a great hobby to do together.

Finally, in order to combat cabin fever and it’s affects on your relationship make a concerted effort to turn off the television once in a while and read together. Each of you can actually pick up one of those many magazines you have ordered, but never make the time to read, and start sharing some of the interesting facts that you find with your partner. This is beneficial on so many levels that I dare not even take a stab at trying to name them all. It is mentally stimulating, it spurs conversation as now there are new things to talk about, it is a real bonding activity and likewise it increases your intelligence. Also, try doing some form of exercise together to combat the winter blues and create more bonding opportunities. My partner and I cycle in the basement for 30 minutes each day. You can get a yoga DVD and do that together as well. Exercise raises the serotonin level and is especially good for those who suffer from depression or even some level of run-of-the-mill winter blues. Exercising together helps to serve as a motivator for each other and ensure it is done with consistency.

So, if you are feeling the effects of cabin fever and it is affecting your relationship then take the month of February to combat it. Plan somewhere new to go together, as this equates to creativity and creativity always puts the energy back into relationships that are suffering from winter stagnation. Creativity equals excitement. Next, find something to do together. Take a cooking class, pottery class, yoga class or educate yourself with a good lecture about your health and the environment. Finally, turn off that television as we all tend to get a little intellectually lazy during the cold winter months. Pick up a good book, read some great articles or rent a couple of documentaries and do some bonding with your partner through sharing of ideas and information. Incorporate these tactics and you can beat back cabin fever and go roaring into spring, which is just around the corner.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Therapist a Relationship Coach. For a free consultation call 314-374-8396.

Come visit my booth at the Healthy Planet Expo, Feb. 27 in Webster Groves.

The Healthy Planet does not endorse any information contained in articles, advertisements or directory listings and we suggest consulting a health care professional before beginning any therapy or medical treatment.