If you live with a chronic illness, these purposeful yet restful self-care activities will let you use your mind without using too much energy.
Having a chronic illness is hard to deal with, but as a person who has always been target-motivated, I find it hard to fully relax. My body can be sapped of energy, aching, and worn, but there’s still a nagging feeling that I should be spending my time purposefully.
We live in a world that thrives on busyness, but taking time to rest and recuperate is vital for anyone with chronic illness. For many people experiencing periods of illness (or flares), withdrawing is a natural reaction. Staying home means you can concentrate on recuperation by resting your body, either through sleep or laying on the sofa.
However, if you find it hard to switch off entirely, these purposeful yet restful activities could be just what you need.
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Keeping your mind active can boost your mood, so brain games are an ideal way to work those grey cells while resting your body. Jigsaw puzzles are my personal favorite, as being able to see the progression gives me a sense of purpose, but crosswords, sudoku, word searches, dot-to-dots, and Rubik’s cubes are fun alternatives. If you find it hard to manipulate pens or small pieces because of joint pain or other symptoms, downloading an app version of your favorite puzzle may help.
Arts and Crafts
If you are a naturally creative person, exploring new arts and crafts can be a satisfying way to rest. Simple origami can be completed in a matter of minutes and is a mindful activity that can help you relax. If you prefer working with yarn, a crochet blanket is a useful project yielding quick visual progress. Crochet is known for helping the management of joint pain in people with arthritis. Painting, clay work, and mosaics are other fun options, and coloring books can also be a relaxing activity to focus on.
There is no shame in snuggling up on the sofa in your Oodie and losing yourself in your favorite show. When you have low energy or acute pain, allowing yourself to rest can be the answer. Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it certainly helps lift your spirits, which means tuning in to a comedy can be an uplifting choice and help raise your mood if you’re feeling low.
If you find you are always busy and can’t take time to relax, why not schedule a slot in your diary for meditation? Sports watches and apps such as Fitbit and Calm offer meditation sessions that are simple to follow and can encourage you to take time to reset. This purposeful peace allows you the opportunity to focus on regulating your breathing, which is known to control anxiety and reduce stress – both common in people with long-term illnesses – as well as setting aside time to just be.
Many people with chronic illness enjoy the escapism reading brings; it’s possible to travel the world from the comfort of your own armchair through the pages of a book. Whether you enjoy romantic comedies or grisly crime thrillers, autobiographies, or literary classics, there’s nothing quite like losing yourself in the magic conjured up by a good book. With paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks readily available, books are accessible to many people with chronic conditions. Many library services now loan digital books too, making it easy and affordable to pick out a new novel, even if you’re not well enough to leave the house.
If you are feeling unwell, finding the energy to look after yourself can be a challenge. You might not be eating a varied diet, drinking enough water, or being able to manage your usual personal hygiene routine. Asking for help can make a big difference, whether this is through friends and family bringing freshly-prepared meals or having a partner help you wash your hair or paint your nails. It’s important to remember that on your worst days, you may not be able to manage these tasks with or without support, so be kind to yourself – pushing yourself too far will only delay your healing. Knowing when to stop completely is an act of self-care in itself!
For more items like this, check out our guide to self-care boxes for people with chronic illness.
Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you – remember, you know it better than anyone else.
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