by Jessie Arnold
Although states are easing their COVID-19 lockdown measures, many of us in the disability and chronic illness community must continue to quarantine and be cautious. We will continue to socially isolate and only go out using proper PPE and physical distancing. This leaves us with a lot of time on our hands, but sometimes with limited mobility around the house. Here are some activities I do to fill the time, and that you may also enjoy if you live with a chronic illness or disability.
Disability and Chronic Illness Quarantine Activities
1. Listen to radio shows or podcasts.
I use the BBC World Service App. This is a specific app from the BBC that is designed for international news, rather than simply being U.K.-focused. Prior to COVID-19, it was delightful for programs like “Witness History,” “From Our Own Correspondents,” and “Science in Action” that explore so many new ideas, as well as keeping you updated on current events. I listen with a little more caution in COVID times. Although there are still some good programs, everything is largely about the pandemic. While I want to keep up with what’s going on, I don’t want to be overwhelmed by fear and loss, especially before bed, so I monitor my mood as I listen.
2. Learn a new language — at your own pace.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to learn an entire language just because you have a disability or chronic illness and must quarantine. You’re under no obligation to undergo some dramatic self-improvement just because you can’t leave the house. You still have the activities of daily living to consider, and the challenges of disability don’t change because everyone else is staying at home too. But you can set little goals. Maybe there’s a particular conversation you would like to have with a bilingual friend. Maybe you want to surprise them with a certain affectionate phrase. Some popular apps include Duolingo and Babbel. If you find rote learning boring, you can also try watching shows like Peppa Pig in Spanish or getting into a good foreign soap opera. That’s how many of my Spanish-speaking friends learned English when they came to America. It might give you a dramatic vocabulary!
3. Learn to play an instrument.
Toot your own horn! If you can find an instrument online that works for you with your personal physical abilities, playing a few notes a day can give you a huge sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. There’s no pressure to be good — just to create something of your own is hugely rewarding. After many years, I’m fighting my fibro fog and getting back to the piano. Experts say learning an instrument increases your memory and protects against certain forms of dementia. You can try to learn on your own, or at your leisure explore lessons on YouTube or a learning app. This article has advice on getting instruments and learning online.
4. Learn to cook one simple dish.
Everyone is cooking up a storm during COVID-19, which is fun, but this can create pressure for someone with a chronic illness or disability who isn’t physically capable of cooking elaborately and cleaning up every day. This is a good example of where pacing can come in handy. What if you just add one fun dish to your repertoire, something you’ve always wanted to learn? That way, it doesn’t turn into drudgery, but is one thing you can perfect and come out of quarantine with a tasty new treat under your belt. You could also just make it a goal to learn a new cooking skill, like the proper way to cut an onion.
5. Have fun with nail polish.
There are so many fun new options for decorating your nails. I find that adding color to my life in a simple way I can handle benefits my mood and feels like self-care. It is easier than a task like doing my hair, which takes upper arm strength and can be fatiguing. I do have an essential tremor, so I have to focus on something easy like nail polish strips, but my friends with chronic illness who are better with their hands have also found other new methods fun. For example, when nail salons had to close down in many areas, some entrepreneurs kept themselves afloat by selling the dip powder sets online. They can take a while to ship because of the effects of the virus on production, etc., but the powder lasts forever.
6. Try knitting.
Men and women alike find joy in the comforting rhythm of knitting or crocheting. You’ll need a few simple supplies: some basic needles and some decent quality yarn that won’t frustrate you by unraveling while you’re working. You can acquire these products online if you are sheltering in place and worried about going out. If you prefer to make this a creative outing, you can look at Pandemic Pal for masks and hand soap to make your outing safer. There are simple YouTube videos, like there are for most skills now, that will help you learn. Although my poor spatial perception makes it challenging, I do enjoy knitting.
7. Explore nature.
It’s not just for the birds! For some of us, exploring nature may be simply sitting in our backyard with a drink, or if we can, going out in our neighborhood, paying more attention than usual to people’s gardens. It can be challenging to find protective products for going outside, but Pandemic Pal has your back. Be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds using CDC protocols when you come back from any outing, and you may want to wear gloves if you are sitting at a public picnic table, as a reminder to yourself not to touch your face. If you have trouble washing your hands due to accessibility issues, you can find some solutions here.
However you decide to fill this stressful time, make your home and heart a judgment-free zone. In my mind, if I’m eating and alive, I’m succeeding!
Read more from Jessie at Jan Copywriting.