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23 Things to Do on Days When You're Stuck at Home Due to Illness

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Life with chronic illness means you may have days (or weeks, or even longer) when you aren’t able to leave your home. While your healthy friends may think you’re “so lucky” to “get to stay home every day,” you know the truth: that it can be tough to be in so much pain, or so fatigued, or have such a difficult symptom flare, that you aren’t able to get outside, go to work or see your friends. There’s absolutely no shame in spending any length of time “housebound.” But if you’re struggling with loneliness, boredom or “cabin fever” due to spending a lot of time at home, you’re not alone. There are so many out there dealing with similar challenges (Mighty contributor Toni Bernhard even wrote an article about her own experiences and advice).

Coping with the challenges of being housebound due to illness isn’t easy, but it can help to know how others in the same situation get through it. So we asked our Mighty community to share their advice for those who have to stay home often because of their illness. Hopefully their tips, tricks and “hacks” can give you some ideas for your own “housebound” days.

Here’s what our community told us: 

  1. “Due to the steep incline and sheer number of stairs in my house, we have moved our bed from our upstairs bedroom to the main floor, in the living room. That way, at least I am in the midst of the hubbub of our daily life, instead of locked away, all alone, in my bedroom all the time… I am even able to go outside and walk around our yard, when I feel up to it. I feel like I have so much more freedom now that I am ‘downstairs.’” — Donna-Jean I.
  2. I try to keep myself busy with things I can do while laying down. Recently I started crocheting, It’s a really nice distraction and most of my finished projects I give away to people that deserve it.” — Lenthe S.
  3. “I’m home all the time. I write a blog and encourage women who are going through difficult times. I have over 170,000 followers. Helping others with their pain helps me deal with my pain and illness.” — Jenny W.
  4. “I love my Kindle Fire. Not only do I read on it but I can also use it for games and Netflix.” — Kim M.
  5. “Do everything you can to limit cabin fever. I keep many low-maintenance houseplants. I love to play nature videos from YouTube. There are many that are over three hours long… Almost any landscape you could want. It really helps to bring the outside indoors.” — Liberty W.
  6. “Get a home health aide! I am disabled due to autoimmune neuropathy. If it weren’t for my aide, I would be so alone! Besides helping me with personal care, she helps keep my apartment clean. She is also a great companion!” — Kathy A.
  7. “Video games! Even if you’ve never played before or feel you’re ‘too old’ (you’re never too old). They keep your mind busy, and are good for days when moving around isn’t possible.” — Kaitlyn M.
  8. “I’m not housebound overall, but I also don’t get out *a lot* and have stretches where I can’t really go out at all. My biggest ways of getting through it: positive TV shows (nothing that’s too emotionally heavy or intellectually demanding for how you feel at the moment). Making your house beautiful. You’d be surprised how even something small like switching from dingy white bedsheets to rich purple ones or getting a houseplant can brighten your mood. I try to make as many things I own as possible be beautiful. [And] spend time looking outside, standing in the porch or balcony, or something like that, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day.” – Sheila V.
  9. “Keep your mind [as] busy as possible! It helps so much. I write, read, work, watch TV, snuggle with my dogs — all from bed. I think not being alone and having my dogs help me from not getting so down! They cheer me up and lay with me when I’m in so much pain. And I know they can’t talk back but they hear me.” — Bianca M.
  10. “Rely on friendships and relatives to vent and visit. It can be very alienating to be homebound. So very important to stay connected with other people outside of the home.” — Llana H.
  11. “Google Express and Amazon Prime as they deliver most basic household products directly to your door within two days.” — Danielle M.
  12. “In warmer weather I put a camping chair in the garden and sit out there reading or just listening to the birds (with suncream, hat and sunglasses on!).” — Sarah L.
  13. “I am learning how important lumens are! When homebound (which is more often than not) I open the window coverings and let in as much natural light as possible.” — Denise L.
  14. “A good quality eye mask for napping or a bad migraine. I don’t know what I would do without one (or several!)” — Jessica S.
  15. “I joined a guild in an online game I can play on my phone, and I’ve made some really good friends over the past year playing it. I can be social on the game when I want to, and I can avoid it when I’m not able to engage with people.” — Sarah L.
  16. “Keep a daily routine. Whether it’s light bed exercise and brushing your teeth or full shower and beauty routine. Even just one or two things. It all helps and it’s all important.” — Beth D.
  17. “I keep a blog so that I have an outlet, but I keep it positive. I don’t let it be a venting place as much as a way to plan how to take care of myself, and a place to record all my medical experiences so that I can remember and let others learn from them.” — Sarah L.
  18. “Books, movies, comfy PJs and a heated blanket. No guilt.” — Christi V.
  19. “For me our rescue [pet] has changed my mood so much. She’s my companion and I am no longer lonely while my husband and kids are away during the day. Also I make sure to step outside for fresh air, have a comfort blanket, and craft to pass the time.” — Sarah M.
  20. “Joining Facebook groups not related to your illness but instead a hobby/interest is also really good. For example I like decorating my planner with stickers, Washi tape, etc. and I also love Harry Potter. There’s a Facebook group called Harry Potter And The Order Of The Planners plus a spin-off dedicated to reading called HPOOTP-Flourish and Blotts. I love it because there are tons of active members and it’s not focused on my disability. On the flip side it is helpful to join a group that is related to your illness/disability for the support aspect of it. For example, the group I helped start: Happy Planners: Chronic illness & special needs. I like having both options available.” — Rebecca P.
  21. “[I use the] Overdrive app on my iPad so I can borrow audiobooks from the library. Sometimes it was the only thing I could do in the dark due to my debilitating headaches from CSF leak. Reading on the iPad is also a lot easier on [my] eyes.” — Ingrid S.
  22. “I use doTERRA essential oils to give me some comfort while at home. I also have a Sobakawa cloud pillow for my head whereas I could never use a pillow under my head before.” — Mindy P.
  23. I read books to transport me away from my house and my own situation to whole new worlds and characters!” — Sarah L.
Originally published: March 13, 2018
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