The world has shut down in a way that is unprecedented until now. With so many people stuck at home, questions around how to fight boredom are popping up. For those of us with chronic illness, this is not a new problem! We are, in fact, the leading experts on the subject!
So, if you are looking for things to do at home, here are some spoonie-approved tips:
Ground yourself in the here-and-now. Put aside all of the “shoulds” for a minute. Send yourself some LOVE. This can look different for each of us, but consider a few extra pensive cozy minutes in bed, journaling, guided meditation, expression gratitude…or just breathe! More tips here.
Our psyches crave order in times of chaos. Help yourself feel more control by creating structure. This could be an hourly schedule, a sticker chart, or even just planning events involving other people, so that you have specific times to work around. Need some events? Look for virtual concerts, yoga classes, or just tune in to the Friends in the Fight facebook group each Sunday for our live community events! But remember, this is a time to take care of yourself, NOT a time to conquer the world and beat all of your personal records. Set tiny goals for yourself, so that you can feel good when things are accomplished.
Check out this awesome self-care sticker chart from Maggie Keenan-Bolger, one of our Friends!
3. Get moving — ideally outside
I chose to think of it as movement rather than exercise. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get into top notch shape and run a marathon. It’s probably not great for your body to suddenly slam on the gas. Movement is, however, very beneficial for most bodies and medical conditions! My EDS doctors like to say that “motion is lotion”. More than this, movement helps to release the stress hormones trapped in your body from quarantine and all its challenges. Moving around, especially outside if you can, gives a major boost to mental health! This could be walking (at any pace), rolling on the floor with kids, gentle yoga… whatever!
4. Organization projects
How you experience being stuck at home can be largely influenced by what your home looks and feels like. Choosing one area of your living space to reorganize, clean, or spruce up in some way can feel creative, add structure, and leave you feeling so much better when it’s finished! Don’t be afraid to make this a multi-day project; it feels good to not have to come up with new ideas each day, and cleaning feels less overwhelming when it’s not under a time crunch.
5. Get lost in a story
Sometimes it’s nice to just escape! Visit another world through someone else’s story, whether curling up to a good book or watching a new show. Not sure what to read or watch? Check out our book list and TV/movie picks.
6. Productive rest
While this may seem like an oxymoron, it’s not! Oftentimes we see down time as rest, but it’s not always the case. Sitting around without actively practicing self-care can actually add to stress, boredom, or negative thought-patterns. I actually schedule in “productive rest” times into my day so that it doesn’t get kicked down the road. I try to let go of all expectations and do something that will actively lead to rest and healing — meditate, listen to music, cuddle with pets/partners/pillows, etc.
7. Cook or bake
Unless we are tube-fed (shout out to Friend in the Fight Kiera for baking tasty treats despite not being able to eat them!), we need to eat. So instead of throwing something together like usual, consider making it a fun activity! Try a new recipe, work on presentation, or make it a date! Even if you don’t have anyone you can cook with physically in the same kitchen, you can always video call someone to chat while you both cook.
Check out our first Friends in the Fight live community event — baking and decorating with Ambassador Maddie Beale!
8. Arts & crafts
There’s something therapeutic about creating something new during times of chaos. There’s even research showing that art can be used as treatment for mental illness. Even if you haven’t turned to art in the past, give it a try this quarantine! Turn on some relaxing tunes and create — doodle, sculpt with play dough, knit a scarf, try out an easy watercolor tutorial, color in some coloring pages…
9. Learn a new skill
Looking for a challenge? Try to learn a new skill! Accept that it will take time, and expect to fail. A lot. If you’re up for it, though, spending a few weeks working towards a new skill can be so empowering! It keeps our brains occupied and reminds us that we can grow, change, and adapt. And hey, you might just discover a new favorite hobby! Don’t forget to ask for help, whether from YouTube, an online class, a book, or a friend.
10. Connect with others
Just because we are quarantined does NOT mean we have to be isolated! Reach out to people over the phone, video chats, snail mail, and support groups. If you’re an introvert like me, this may feel daunting. Remember, you don’t have to talk the whole time! In my house, we would do “parallel” activities. For example, my sister and I would play a card game while my dad parallel read next to us on the couch. We didn’t need to interact to still feel close. You could set up a weekly date with a friend to check in briefly and then play a game together or just do your own thing, like cooking or repotting plants. And hey, if you see an opportunity to help someone else feel supported, like sending a card ordering them a grocery delivery, it may feel good to make someone’s day!
Want more ideas? Check out what other spoonies have to say, like our Friend Chuck! Or post in the Friends in the Fight facebook group to find out what others are up to, and to share your own quarantine adventures!