14 February 2013

Getting Past Cabin Fever

© Jen Baldwin, 2012-2013.

For some of us around the globe, winter can last a very long time. You start to dream of the simple things: grass, going outside without multiple layers of clothing, a day free of snow shovels. 

As a genealogist, I start thinking about which cemeteries I want to visit, and when. Which ghost town’s I want to see during the limited summer months.

Not complaining, here. We love where we live. It’s just… well, yea, the cold gets to you once in a while.

So, here are my top ten ways to get past that winter cabin fever.
  1. Take a walkEven if it is only 15 F outside, bundle yourself up and get some fresh air. You may just have a light bulb moment, causing you to rush back to your research plan, blog, or anything else you might have going. If you cannot, for whatever reason, actually go outside; open your window for a few minutes. Let that fresh air in!

  2. Go back in your files.  Give yourself some time to rediscover a piece you may have forgotten about in your files. You never know what you may learn, and it may just kick start your energy level.

  3. Reach out. Collaborate! Social media is available for all of us, and the online genealogy community gets bigger each day. There is so much to learn just by talking to each other! Best tip, though; if you live in a cold climate, when you are feeling really down about the weather, talk to other’s who live in cold climates, too. Don’t chat it up with your best genea friend in southern Florida, it will only make you feel worse. Find someone in a similar situation and share sob stories for a minute or two.

  4. Don’t Dwell. Share that sob story! But keep it to a limit. If you wallow in the bad weather, as we all well know, it will only make it worse. Put on some upbeat music, and let yourself find a happy place.

  5. Find a Small Museum. Find one, the smallest you can, and plan to spend at least two hours there. Trust me, the person tending the site will be happy to have someone to chat with, and undoubtedly, you will learn something.

  6. IMG_6380
    Idaho Springs, Colorado Cemetery
    © Ancestral Journeys, 2012-2013
    Research a Stranger. This is one of my favorite things to break up the repetition, and I plan for it during the summer months. I’ll stop at a random cemetery or historical society and take pictures of something that has no relevance to my current research whatsoever. Then during the winter, I pull those out and just start digging. Don’t have those unknown photos laying about? Grab a local history book from the library, and research someone from your community.

  7. Go Elsewhere. Get out of the house. Again. Find a local coffee shop that has comfy chairs and sit there for a bit. Let the local traffic distract you. A new set of walls can do a world of good, and you never know, you may meet someone with similar interests.

  8. Move Seats. If you cannot get out of the house (which is often my situation, as I’m a Mommy, too), then give yourself a different view from within your home. Go from office, to table, to bedroom and back again. This does not necessarily mean that your computer needs to travel with you; sometimes your best friend can be a notepad and pen.

  9. Break Up Your Routine. I write most often with a cup of tea at hand. In the afternoon’s. With music on. Nearly every day, that is where you will find me. Every once in a while, though, I need to stimulate my routine with a change, even a small one. A cold beverage instead of hot; write in the morning, or stay up late. Change the music; listen to a podcast or webinar instead. It can be something very small, but it may make a difference. We are creatures of habit, and we can just as easily get into the habit of winter blues as we can anything else.

  10. Challenge Yourself. Do something bold, something new. Venture into new territory. This may mean that you join us for #genchat on Twitter, or it might be going to a new repository or archives in another city. Out of your comfort zone. Be creative, spontaneous, adventurous!

    Keep in mind - and this is very important - winter can only last so long. Before you know it, you'll be back in those cemeteries, back to getting your hands dirty (literally) on the research goods. Don't despair, it's already almost March!

    Grand Tetons National Park flower.
    © Ancestral Journeys, 2012-2013


  1. Great post, Jen! I love the tips. I like researching strangers, too. :)

  2. Wonderful post, Jen! Love it! And I will research anyone, anytime. Just finding those nuggets of "gold" is so worth the journey!

  3. Love the Grand Tetons National Park Flower as a finishing touch. This is a great spread of suggestions for cold-bound (and therefore house-bound) people. I especially like the "Take a Walk" (Inside will feel so much better afterwards) and "Find a small museum" suggestions! We have a small museum in our town combined with a local historical society. DAR meetings are held there.

    February is always the longest month. Except maybe for November--but Thanksgiving breaks up November. Right about now, the spring equinox is only about a month away. People forget that, and spring always comes as a surprise. Spring in Connecticut takes about a month, and I love the slowness of it.


Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!