101 Activities and Things to Do While Recuperating
- by Carol White Llewellyn
101 Ideas for When Your Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Gone
I was recently shocked when my superhero younger brother, who enjoys extreme sports and has seldom missed a day or work in his life, was laid flat due to a biking accident in which he suffered multiple injuries. He’s on the mend, but he, and several other friends who have suffered recent health setbacks gave me inspiration to write this article.
When you’re experiencing unexpected “down time,” it’s hard not to get into the sleep/eat/watch TV syndrome. Inactivity and inability to do the activities you normally do can add to the depression of being laid up. Despite limitations, there are still lots of activities you can undertake that will contribute to your life and enhance your mood, rather than make you feel you’re reduced to current circumstances.
Even the most active people run into periods of time where they’re not quite themselves, due to illness, surgery, or injury. Don’t berate yourself because you’re not stronger, not healing faster, or didn’t address the issue sooner. Focus on the healing journey rather than self-recrimination.
With each of the activities on the article to which I'm providing a link (and not every activity will appeal to or be practical for everyone) you’ll want to take into consideration the physical limitations of your circumstances. Look for the (VI) next to ideas (mostly toward the bottom) to identify activities for those with vision impairment.
One other thing to consider is, in advance of an expected confinement, or with the help of a friend or family member, consider purchasing google home or putting alexa on your smart phone to help you easily access information, music, favorite shows, self-hypnosis or meditation audio instructions, etc.
We wish you well on your healing journey and hope you find a variety of fun and practical ideas that help you on your road to recovery.
Games, Crafts and More
- Did you know Wikipedia lists 90 different Solitaire games? Pull out the cards and learn a new one, or play it online or on a phone app.
- Have someone print out photos from your computer or phone, and start a scrapbooking project (this works best when you can set up a table in advance and leave materials out)
- Create beautiful holiday crafts (any holiday!) with materials found around the house
- Download and play Words with Friends. It’s a great way to keep in touch with family and friends
- Crossword puzzles are always fun for “words people,” and they can now be done in print or online
- Take up calligraphy or hand lettering – all it takes is paper and pen!
- Take up embroidery, needle point, red work or other crafts that use needle and thread
- If you love numbers, Sudoku is available in print, on a phone app or online
- There are lots of simple, fun jewelry designs you can easily make with minimal materials
- There are lots of beautiful coloring books for adults, so grab some crayons, colored pencils or markers, and enjoy! Some even come in postcard format, so you can jot a note on the back and share your work with a friend
- Create a family calendar – Choose photos from your phone or computer and upload them to an online site to create a family calendar to give for the holidays
- Take up crocheting or knitting. There are lots of great online videos that will teach you how
- Take up wood whittling. (You’ll find kits on Amazon and videos on youtube)
- Discover the fun of creating a henna design on your hand or arm
- Play with clay or play doh! It was fun as a kid and can be therapeutic as an adult.
- Discover the fine art of Origami, where you fold small squares of paper to create ornaments, jewelry decorations or even multi-piece centerpieces.
- Repot a small plant
- Have photo gifts Upload favorite photos from your phone or computer and have mugs, t-shirts or bags created as gifts for friends and family.
- Learn how to do some fancy braiding or an intricate updo on a cooperative head (Youtube is great for this)
- Do decoupage or make a mosaic
- Make (or fiddle with) a Zen garden
- Make a fairy garden
- Make a terrarium
- Put your fabric skills to work for others. There are tons of programs (https://www.knotsoflove.org/nicu-blanket-patterns or http://www.mooncatcher.org/ )
- Plan a wall full of family photographs with a scale-model drawing, and go ahead and order prints and frames to do later
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Make a card house
- Learn about astrology, chakras and healing stones
- Solve a Rubik’s Cube (yes, they do still make these fascinating puzzles, invented around 1980!)
- Play checkers or chess with a friend or family member.
- Make a heating pad. Take a sock that’s missing its pair (make sure it has no synthetic material), and pour 1 ½ cup of rice in it. Sew or knot the top. You can heat it in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes then use it to relieve pain.
- Plan your next vacation! You may not have the energy to go right now, but planning will give you encouragement and inspiration.
- Get a travel map and mark all the destinations to which you’ve been! You can use a regular map and markers or find scratch off or pin maps on Amazon. These make interesting conversation pieces when mounted.
- Plan a day trip or staycation for when you’re up and about – Many of us don’t visit the treasures in our own back yard. Research fun local activities and attractions you can do once you’re back on your feet.
- Look up and make a list of the dates of events and festivals you’d like to attend once you’re back on your feet (Beyond the Nest can help!)
- Write a film review of a movie you’ve watched, and share it on social media or with friends
- Review a restaurant or attraction - Post it to Yelp
- Handwrite and send notes or cards to friends (You’ll give a lift to your day and theirs!)
- Have someone pick up some comic books or graphic novels (you’ll be amazed how Calvin and Hobbes will improve your day!)
- Start a healing journal, or simply journal about favorite people and memories
- Think about something you’d like to get off your chest and submit an editorial to a newspaper, magazine or blog.
- Share your expertise - Write a ‘how to’ article about something you know well and submit it to an online site.
- Practice armchair activism: sign petitions or write to politicians about issues you care about
- Write your memoir. No one has to see it, unless you care to share it with them, but remembering your favorite adventures of the past can be joyful.
- If you had exceptional service while in the hospital, rehab center, or a friend went out of his or her way during your stay, write a thank you.
Catch up on reading
- We often don’t have the time to just read Take advantage or your “down time” to read a novel, biography or informational book
- Search through old recipe books and mark new recipes to prepare when you’re back on your feet.
- Re-read your favorite children’s books…to yourself, or to the little ones in your life. They’re short, sweet, and don’t take a lot of energy to finish.
- Discover a new detective novel series to read
- Catch up on your magazine reading
- Ask someone to go to the library and check out several unusual magazines that they couldn't imagine you'd ever read. Then try reading them anyway.
- Start a blog. Write about anything your heart desires. Start it for free at wordpress.com or blogger.com
- You may not have the energy to stand and organize a room or a corner, but pull out a drawer, your jewelry, your sock drawer, your fishing tackle or some other contained space and enjoy the satisfaction of putting things in order.
- Clean out your junk drawer (who doesn’t have at least one?)
- Work on your taxes. It’s not fun for most, but if you can get them out of the way during down time, you don’t have to dedicate valuable time later
- Who doesn’t have a pile of clothes that need mending, buttons or a stitch or two? It’s a great time to give them some TLC.
- Plan your garden – You can use magazines or online sites to plan your spring garden
- While you’re stuck in one spot, it’s a good time to attack the junk mail pile that looks like the leaning tower of Pisa (or am I the only one who has one of those?)
- Share recipes – Got a couple of favorite recipes people would love to have? Write them out on paper or digitally and share them with friends and family members.
- Birthday cards – If you stock up on birthday cards in advance, use your down time to add cute, personal messages to them (but make sure you put them someplace you’ll find them when the birthday comes around!)
- Clean out/update your address book or the contact list on your phone
- Unsubscribe from annoying email lists
- Research an issue you care about or some big-ticket item (washer, dryer or new car) that you'll need to buy soon
- Polish your shoes
- Start online shopping for the holidays; Discover some new websites from which to order.
- Clean and polish your silver jewelry
- With help from Google or a manual, see if you can finally figure out what all the buttons on your remote control
- Update your resume. It’s always good to keep it up-to-date, even if you don’t need it!
- Make a list of things you want to throw out or donate once you’re back on your feet.
- Cut apart old worn-out sheets or towels to use as rags, or to donate to an animal shelter where they’re always in need.
It’s All Online
- Set up a Spotify account (if you don’t have one already). Create a play list of your favorite tunes to enjoy while recovering.
- Download photos – Create a backup of the photos on your phone
- There are lots of online videos to watch where you can learn a new skill or craft by watching youtube.
- Check out phone apps to solve problems – If you have a challenge you’d like to address (other than cloning, instant healing, money magnet, or the magic wand app), there’s probably an app that will address it!
- Download and listen to an audio book or podcast (if you’re not sure where to start, try Stitcher or Libby) (VI)
- Do research online for a room remodeling project.
- Edit your photos. If some of your photos would be great, if only the color were adjusted or they were cropped, check out some of the fun, free editing software (picmonkey or Gimp are two)
- Watch TED Talks. You’ll find entertain, informational and inspirational talks on almost any topic. (VI - most TED Talks are great just to listen to them)
- Explore online recipes, and investigate new food websites. Research interesting recipes for yourself, or for friends and family members with food allergies or restrictions.
- Discover a new television series and binge watch it from the beginning
- Use your phone to record interesting stories from your childhood or earlier years or to create one out of the blue to share with your family. (VI)
- People watch – Even if you can’t get around, if you station yourself near a window, it’s fun to people watch and imagine what people are doing and where they’re going.
- Plant a window herb garden – Herb gardens are usually done in small containers that can easily be done in one location if you get the seeds and pots in advance.
- Practice an old (or learn a new) musical instrument
- Do a short, daily (or weekly) video recording on your phone and text or email it to friends
- Google the lyrics to a song you love but only know words for the chorus
- Aromatherapy - Don't undestimate the healing power of one of the most powerful of our senses...our sense of smell! (VI)
- Groom or cuddle your pet on your lap. S/he’ll love it, and pets can do wonders for healing. (VI)
- Do stretching exercises for those parts of your body unafflicted to keep stiffness from setting in
- Doing meditation while you’re out of commission can help control the stress of not being able to do normal activities (VI)
- Just sit quietly and listen to the rain on a stormy day. It can be very relaxing. (VI)
- Ask a friend or family member for a nurturing foot, hand or head massage (VI)
- Check out the many free phone and online apps that will help you do self-hypnosis. This mind-control exercise that can not only pass the time but can also help control pain (VI - ask a friend to download it for you and show you where to find it on your phone)
- Paint your nails; Give yourself a manicure
- Gentle yoga (you can search for yoga to address specific issues like neck tension)
- Call a friend or a relative you haven't seen for a while. You don't even have to say what's been going on this month--you've got years to catch up on! (VI)
- Invite a friend to visit. They don’t care what you look like, or that you’re not “yourself,” they care about you, and may be reluctant to pop in unexpectedly, for fear of waking or tiring you. (VI)
- Create your own personal mantra to repeat to yourself, to reinforce that you’re far more than your current circumstances. (Here’s an example of mine: “I’m beautiful, smart, creative and wise, and I can do anything I put my mind to”). (VI)
- If you are a person who finds spiritual guidance through religion, prayer can be a wonderful self-healing and pampering tool. (VI)
- Give yourself a pep talk. Out loud. Tell yourself you're getting stronger or that you look great. Keep saying it 'til you believe it. (VI)
- Make plans for a way to celebrate your recovery! Maybe it’s a tea party, a dinner celebration, your first post-recuperation bike ride, or maybe it’s a trip to your favorite ice cream shop. It doesn’t matter. It’s just important to celebrate the occasion! (VI)
Thanks to friends and readers who made the suggestions below, some of which are specifically geared toward those with vision impediments.
- Zooniverse.org - This online/phone app enables everyone to take part in real cutting edge research in many fields across the sciences, humanities, and more.
- Ask a friend to read to you - Invite a friend or family member over to read poetry or your favorite book to you. (VI)
- Goodies Tasting - Invite friends in and ask them to each bring their favorite coffee/tea/beer/wine/baked goods and do a goodies tasting (if these will work with medications you may be taking) (VI)
- Clean Your Hairbrush - A friend suggested using dental floss to clean it, saying it looks brand new after doing that followed by a soak
With thanks to KidsOutAndAbout.com's June Santini, Katie Beltramo and several readers for their collaboration and suggestions on this article.
Carol White Llewellyn is Editor of BeyondTheNest.com and the host and producer of Conversations with Creatives, a cable and online TV program that explores the arts and celebrates artists and their work.