Tuesday 7 July 2020

Coping with being housebound

At various points in my chronic illness life I've become housebound or have mostly been housebound only going out for essential trips, mostly for medical appointments and the odd special 'treat'. Most recently though I decided to self-isolate as much as possible during the coronavirus pandemic (even though I wasn't on the governments official 'vulnerable list) because of my different illnesses as I know how vulnerable my body is to infections and how if I where to become ill how my body wouldn't be able to cope. Even just getting a cold can lead to me developing a chest infections which at times have lead complications in the past. 

Being housebound isn't easy. It is very isolating and hugely affects my physical and mental health, but I have found ways to mange it.

One of the things that I hope comes from the coronavirus lockdown whereby most of the country had to stay home is that among the public a greater understanding will come for what it is like for people like myself who are housebound and for us this isn't a temporary measure.

How to manage life when you're housebound 

Establishing a routine

One of the most important things I would say about managing with being housebound is establishing some sort of daily routine. Get dressed each day and have meals and snacks at set times and plan around these. My advice it to alternate between activity an rest periods (if you personally need to do this) - this was the advice my Occupational Therapist gave me.

There will also inevitably be good and bad days where you will have to alter your schedule or when appointments clash. Also have a regular night time routine and practice good sleep hygiene. Having a routine gives your day structure and a sense of achievement as it can be all too easy to stay in your pyjamas all day and do very little.

Maybe also build into your routine some time to get some fresh air. or to sit in a place with sunlight. If it is safe and possible on a nice day spend some time in your garden or out on your balcony, or even just sitting by an open window. Or if your home has one sit in a conservatory or sunroom. From my experience this can help you to feel like you're outside and getting some sunlight can help with your body clock distinguishing between day time and night time.

Set goals and make a to-do list

Goal setting and making to-do list makes you feel like you're getting things done. You can make them as simple or as complex as you wish. 

To-do lists can feel a little mundane. Having to write emails, make phone calls, sort through paperwork, tidy-up, get showered and dressed etc but seeing things ticked off again gives you that boost. To make things manageable break things up. Aim to go through just 5 emails at a time, tidy up for 10 minutes then take a break etc and don't forget to set aside time for yourself. And remember, it's okay to ask for help.

You could also make a more uplifting to-do list of things you want to get done like:
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Make a list of the the TV programs or YouTube videos you want to watch
  • Crafts you want to make
  • Get round to sorting out your wardrobe
  • Paint your nails
  • Learn a new language
  • Start a blog/vlog
  • Read a stack of books
  • Complete a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle 
Whatever takes your preference. When you've completed a goal it can feel so amazing. I know I recently decided to make my own heatable eye pillow rather that buy one and now I've made it i look at it and use it with a sense of accomplishment as I'm not amazing on my sewing machine but I made it and  love it.

Most importantly is to congratulate yourself for what you have achieved. 

Engage in self-care

Self-care is so important for your wellbeing and there are so many things that self-care includes so you're bound to find something that works for you.

 It could be doing your nails or putting on some make-up, giving yourself a DIY facial, saving up for something that you really would like to buy, putting on your favourite outfit, lighting your favourite candle, sitting in your favourite place in the quiet for 5 minutes with a hot drink, going to bed early, and so much more - you can read my blog post 30 Self-Care Ideas for some inspiration.

Looking after your emotional wellbeing

Following on from self-care is looking after your mental health which we all have; it doesn't mean that you have a mental illness.

Being housebound can be very isolating which gives you mind room to overthink and when you're living an dealing with a chronic illness it does inevitably wear you down mentally at times.

It's important to talk about how you're feeling whether to a family member, friend or professional. You can find some helplines on My 'List of Charities, Organisations & Miscellaneous Things'.