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So You’re Stuck in Bed: Now What?

When you tell a healthy person that you’re sick and stuck in bed, the usual reactions range from, “I hope you feel better soon,” to, “that sounds like a nice break.” However, when you have a chronic illness, which may include chronic fatigue syndrome or involve chronic pain, staying in bed is not an activity that you can simply choose to stop doing. The comfort and safety of the bed can be necessary for the wellbeing of many individuals experiencing chronic illness. Unfortunately, despite the positive aspects, being stuck in a bed can get very boring quite quickly. Here are a few ideas to help you stave off that boredom, whether you’re stuck in bed for a few days, weeks, months, or years.

1. Yes, catch up on those shows

This may seem like one of the more obvious activities to keep yourself entertained, but it really does help stave off boredom! Often times, before the chronic illness kicked in, you were too busy to watch the shows that looked interesting. You were running around, putting energy into attending school, keeping up with business, taking care of the family, and every time you’d hear of an interesting show, the thought, “Ooh I’ll need to find time for that,” would float across your mind. Though you may not have purposely carved this free time out for yourself, you now have ample opportunity to catch up with all the pop culture you’ve been missing. You might even find new shows you had never heard about before!

2. Read (or listen to) that book you’ve been meaning to pick up

Much like those shows, books were often put aside in favor of all those daily responsibilities and activities you prioritized. Now that you have the opportunity, you can dive into all the books you’d been looking forward to reading. If your illness, pain or fatigue affects your ability to physically read a book, then audiobooks are a wonderful alternative! Whether you’re reading or listening to your chosen book, each story is a portal to a new world. You may be physically stuck in bed or unable to leave it for long, but your mind can still explore new worlds, go on adventures, find friends in your favorite characters, and experience freedom.

3. Express yourself

All that time in bed with little to no disruption is a great opportunity for self-reflection. Take the time away from our regularly fast-paced world to look into who you are as a person. What are your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, both past and present? Take the time to journal your experience, create a blog, or share about your experience via social media as a way to connect with others living through a similar situation. If you’re artistically inclined, draw it out! Chronic illness can be extremely isolating, resulting in many people withdrawing into themselves, which can lead to a depressive state. Instead of succumbing to that pitfall, take this time to speak up and express yourself.

4. Tease your brain

Though watching shows and getting lost in books can be very fun at first, engaging in one activity for too long can result in mind feeling dull and drifting. To keep your mind sharp and allow it to recalibrate, solve some puzzles! I don’t just mean jigsaw puzzles. Try out some crosswords, play some Sudoku, look into some brain training games available online! Of course, always be aware of your limits, as too much mental exertion can result in added fatigue, so be sure to give your brain some breaks along the way.

5. Learn something new

Ever wanted to learn how to play a guitar, knit, or learn how to speak Italian, but couldn’t scrounge up the time? Now’s your chance! There is no end to the number of YouTube videos that can give you step by step instruction for just about anything you want to do. Want delve into a world of captivating topics? TED Talks has got you covered! Interested in attending college classes from bed? There are even free online courses via sites like Coursera and edX. Chronically ill does not need to equate to chronically bored!

6. Take a virtual vacation

If you’re sitting in bed wishing you could be somewhere else, then going on a virtual vacation can be really fun. First step is picking your destination. Once you do that, your adventure can begin! Go online and look at hotels, restaurants, and sight seeing opportunities. Plan which activities you’d like to do if you were to go there. If you want to really explore, use Google Earth to virtually walk around your destination. Watch videos about your chosen vacation spot, learn about the culture and cuisine, and immerse yourself as best as you can, all for free!

7. Pamper yourself

Sure, being stuck in bed probably means that going to the spa or salon is out of the question, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a little home spa for yourself! Wish you could have a facial? Treat your face to warm towels, followed by a soothing facial mask and the luxurious feel of a softening moisturizer. Soak your hands and feet in a basin of warm water filled with Epsom salt, scrub to exfoliate, then moisturize for that fresh mani-pedi feeling. If, instead of the spa experience, you want to really hone in on getting cozy, check out some online shops for super soft pajamas and thick fuzzy socks, or splurge a bit on obscenely fluffy blankets.

Being in bed doesn’t automatically mean you’re taking care of yourself, so be sure to focus on some self-care while you’re stuck. You’ll be surprised how much a few minutes of focusing on your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing can help you feel comfort and relaxation in a difficult situation. So, ready to stave off the mind-numbing boredom yet?

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