Sidelined: Staying Healthy and Happy While Housebound

I’m not saying I like getting sick *ew*, but let’s be honest, sometimes playing the sick card works to your advantage.  You get some time off school or you “regrettably” need to miss out on a tedious business meeting.  My personal favorite is that the sick card usually means I get pampered and don’t have to do chores!  Just when you’re bored of the stay-cation, though, the sickness goes away and real life returns.  Easy.

But then Chronic Illness (or any reason for prolonged “house-a-rest”) comes along.  As weeks, months and even years tic by, the sickness (or whatever your reason) doesn’t go away and real life doesn’t return, at least not easily.  For some of us, staying at home becomes the norm for a season as we get back on our feet.  Maybe doing nothing sounds amazing to you, but for me it got old fast.  Really, there are only so many Netflix shows you can cycle through before your mind goes numb and the couch cushions become permanently concave.

Luckily, there are other ways I’ve found to brighten up days of confinement.  If you’re housebound while trying to recover your health, this post is for you!

•    Keep your mind active

Like they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Keeping your mind active is key in staying healthy and happy.  Usually when we think of exercising the brain, we think of activities that train our memory, knowledge and whit.  Mental gymnastics, however, isn’t all that the mind needs to stay in shape.  The brain is composed of many parts that oversee everything your body needs to function, and they are all interrelated.  Studies have shown that physical exercise improves memory (cool article) and mental exercise improves physical strength and balance (another cool article)!?!  Anyway, my point here is that it’s important for your mental as well as physical well-being to keep your mind alive.

Everyone is different, but I found that daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles were the perfect prescriptions.  For those ready for the next level, try Lumosity.  Jigsaw puzzles for me were also fun.  Remember, it’s not about exhausting yourself or getting frustrated (kinda defeats the purpose anyway).  Just dabble a bit every day.  Baby steps.

•    Find life-building hobbies

Studies show that hobbies help ease anxiety, stress and depression.  Life-building hobbies aren’t things that make us escape from reality (so, no, I wouldn’t say binge watching TV is a healthy hobby), rather they help us stay engaged with life.

Before I got sick, I had a lot of hobbies that involved physical activity: church events, hanging with friends, sports, music, and traveling.  Things are different when you’re housebound, though.  Instead of sulking, I decided to teach myself how to crochet again.  When energy afforded, I made sure I read, and since I had the time, I started journaling more.  Out of necessity I got more into cooking and soon this became a hobby too!

•    Create physical and mental routines and habits

Lastly, I’d recommend establishing some healthy routines and habits.  I don’t mean to sound like your mom reminding you to brush your teeth or make your bed, but routines and habits are actually healthy for us, especially when we are housebound and apt to let ourselves go a bit.  Our bodies were designed to work best and most efficiently on a set schedule.  The less energy the brain uses to figure out new things every moment is more energy saved for healing.  Also, the activities that feel more automatic are the ones most likely to be done.

This helped me a lot at the beginning when it felt like my whole life was flip flopping around.  I didn’t know when I should wake up, eat, take my medication, shower, exercise, read, fall asleep or anything!  It was hard getting anything done so I finally wrote things down and planned everything out.  Once I could get my body back on a schedule, I had more energy and got more things accomplished.  Though I didn’t always feel motivated to exercise at random, for example, when it became a habit, it was easier to do.

Are you currently housebound?  Let me know what tips you have!  I hope this blurb helps you stay motivated and active while you heal.  Thanks for reading!





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