Winter Hermit Crab Syndrome

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide December 08, 2006
  • Do you feel it yet? Is the desire to hole up indoors for the long and cold winter months creeping up on you? I feel it.

    I’m sure not everyone gets hermit crab syndrome in the winter, but I know that I do. As I’m typing, it’s a brisk 18 degrees outside. Weather.com has become my trusty sidekick lately, as I check it obsessively, hoping and praying for a sudden warm spell so that I might run out to the bank or post office.

    My most recent view of my local weather website informs me that it feels like a mere three degrees when you factor in windchill… the post office will still be there tomorrow! I’ve already canceled my plans for the evening, opting instead to make broccoli soup and huddle under a blanket watching a movie.

    Seeing that I am a self-proclaimed hermit crab, I’m not certain that I’m the correct person to be writing this particular piece, but I will forge ahead anyhow. You see, winter weather alone can make an otherwise social individual become a recluse. And incontinence alone can cause a former socialite to reject the most tempting of dates. So it stands to reason that when you put incontinence and blustery weather together and you may have a real problem on your hands.

    I’d like this article to encourage you to get out and stay active despite the weather, but it’s hard for me to do that, because, as I’ve already written, I myself prefer to hunker down inside. So what I’ll do is simply share the techniques that seem to keep me from the brink of insanity.

    I can’t stand cold weather, but I’ve finally accepted the fact that it is inevitable (as long as I live in Chicago, at least). Rather than curse the snow and wind, I accept that they will come and go every year. I choose to live my life by this cycle, going out as often as I can when the weather allows, and allowing myself to spend more time indoors when I can’t work up the nerves to face the near-zero temperatures.

    When winter does settle-in, I choose several out-of-the-home activities per week that are my priorities. Certain things I must go out for, such as work or health-related meetings, appointments, etc. Then there are the things that I’d like to attend. Sometimes I’m tempted to skip these events in the winter, but I choose my favorites and commit to attending: I’m almost always glad I went. Finally, there are the things that I could go to for someone else’s sake, but I’d prefer not to (watching a friend’s child in a school play, a sister-in-law’s baby shower, etc.).

    During the nicer eight or nine months of the year, I’m completely there for my friends and family, and attend these events regularly. But during the colder months, I give myself a break and these events are pushed to the back burner. By keeping a balance of getting out and staying active with allowing myself to hermit-in, I manage to stave off the winter blues while catching up on some much-needed rest and relaxation.

    Sometimes I actually find myself in the opposite situation, however, where I’m anxious to get out of the house, but the events and invitations that keep me occupied throughout most of the year tend to taper off in the colder months (this happens more after the holiday season). In this case, I again try to embrace the situation. I brainstorm projects I’ve wanted to get around to, such as putting my photographs into albums, cleaning out the basement, or learning a new craft. Then I start tackling those projects one by one. Not only does it keep me busy during lonelier times, it also helps me to get back out in the world once the invites start coming again, because I’ve used my time wisely to accomplish a great deal.

  • I also like to use my indoor time to pamper myself by enjoying a homemade cup of hot chocolate, or reading books that I’ve been meaning to get to. Of course there’s always the option of inviting friends and family into my home, and for this I’ll share my newest passion: peapod. Order groceries from peapod.com and they’ll deliver them right to your door – where I live it costs only a few dollars more than going to the grocery store – I probably save money, once gas is factored in. You can plan and host a lovely gathering without every stepping foot outside!

    The combination of cold weather and incontinence can be enough to make anyone avoid leaving their home for a solid three months. But seasonal changes are a part of life, and they keep things interesting. They provide an opportunity for us to change and adapt within our own lifestyles. We can’t change it: so embrace it!

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