ADHD: When Cabin Fever Strikes

Health Writer

For people with ADHD, cabin fever — that time when the weather keeps you indoors for extended periods  — can be torture. You feel restless and fidgety. You are bored and antsy. You become irritable and find it difficult to cope. If this sounds like you, here are some strategies to help manage cabin fever.

Go outside, anyway. It’s cold, snowy, rainy, or just plain dreary and you don’t want to go outside. Go anyway. Bundle up, grab the umbrella or a pair of gloves and a scarf and go for a walk for 15 minutes. Being outside in the fresh air, no matter what the weather, is probably going to make you feel better.

Talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplements. Many people in cold weather areas have low levels of vitamin D during the winter months. A vitamin D deficiency can cause tiredness and general aches and pains, according to the Vitamin D Council. Your doctor can check your vitamin D levels and recommend supplements if necessary.

Set aside time for family. With all the electronics around, it’s easy for everyone in a family to retreat to their corner and spend time online. Use being stuck in the house as an opportunity for family time. Set aside one or two hours a day to put away the electronics and spend time together.

Get up and do something. Sitting is only going to add to your feelings of restlessness. Get up and move, vacuum the house, walk up and down the stairs, clean out a closet, go to the mall and walk around. Moving your body will help decrease the antsy feeling.

Avoid taking naps. It might be tempting to sleep the day away or take a nap to pass the time, but in the long-term this rarely helps. You might end up not sleeping at night and being awake alone during the night can bring on a sense of loneliness.

Take up an indoor hobby. Consider a creative pursuit such as painting or drawing. People with ADHD are often creative and need this type of outlet to keep their minds active

Start a journal. Keep track of how you are feeling, write about your worries or, even better, start a "gratitude journal" that helps you focus on what is good in your life. Being grateful has been shown to improve happiness.

Create a cabin fever box. Before the cold, snowy weather strikes, fill a box with craft supplies, games, playing card, and other things to keep you and your family occupied. Save the box for days when you feel boxed in.

Learn something new. The restless feeling of cabin fever sometimes makes you feel that you need something new in your life. You might decide you want a new job or a new home. Instead of making a major change, try a smaller task — learn a new skill, take lessons for a new language, rearrange the furniture in your living room. Reduce your urge to make major changes because of temporary restlessness.

Reach out and help others. Look for places to volunteer, such as a food bank or shelter. Help your neighbors shovel their driveway. Reach out to elderly neighbors. When you focus on other people, your own problems fade into the background.

Talk to your doctor about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you just can’t seem to shake the depressive feeling, it might be SAD. People with ADHD have a high incidence rate of depression and might be more apt to develop SAD. Talk to your doctor about strategies to combat it.

See more helpful articles:

ADHD and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Light Therapy for Adults with ADD - Alternative Treatments

Activities to Keep Children Entertained

10 Ways to Help Reduce Hyperactivity in Children with ADHD