Saturday 27 April 2024

Activities you can do in bed

This post follows on from my Living with M.E. post where I touched on a number of different topics that I’ve found helpful over the years on things I’ve found to be helpful whilst living with M.E., especially severe M.E. and though I’m not bed bound but I do have to spend much of my day here in bed to best manage my symptoms so I thought I’d put together a post that I know a few people have wanted me to write on activities that can be done in bed.

Whilst I myself have M.E. I’ve written this post to apply to anyone with any illness who requires to spend time in bed and whether your bed bound or you just have to spend a couple of hours in bed each day I hope this post is of help to you in helping you find activities that you can do during the time that you are in bed.


Some equipment I find helpful:

Some things I’ve found useful to allow me to do activities in bed is my over bed table*. A large portion of this table can tilt which is great for activities and helps with my posture too. My first over bed table* was provided to me by my Occupational Therapist (OT) so it might be helpful to speak with your OT to see if an over bed table can be provided to you.

Alternatively you can get fold out bed tables that can tilt up and you can adjust the height of. I have a bamboo one that I used before I got an over bed table. Another alternative that I still use in place of my table is my beanbag lap tray. These are two great alternatives and are a much cheaper option to an over bed table.

I also have a clip on rechargeable lamp as often I’m not always able to tolerate much light in my room so my lamp allows me to do activities at my table.

Finally is my Flexzi 3* stand that I’ve clipped onto the bed rail of my bed that I can mounts my iPad onto - this has been one of the best gadgets that I’ve ever bought. My Flexi I can also mount my phone onto if I wish and it comes with a part whereby I can clip my Flexzi stand onto a table as well.

An alternative which I also use and used before I got my Flexzi is a tablet beanbag, I have one of these and find them quite helpful.

I also find my noise cancelling headphones or my AirPods (or something similar) good especially to block out background noise as I find this reduces my fatigue as I’m not having to process so much sensory information.

I’ve left links to what I have but I’m sure you can find similar items that might be better for you or your budget. *Items eligible for VAT relief.



These activities will range in level of how energy consuming they are from very/low-level activities to higher level activities. I would colour code them from green, orange to red but I know everyone is different and have different ability levels and what might be a green low-level activity for one person might be an orange activity for someone else or they might be green for you on a good day but orange on a not so good day so I won’t do this and I’ll just list the activities.

Also with pacing more energy consuming activities you might want to limit and do for shorter periods especially if you have an energy limiting illness. This can help manage your symptoms and reduce pain, fatigue, post exertion malaise and other symptoms.


I’ve put links to products and stores to help you out - if you live outside the UK I’m sure you have similar stores that will sell similar products. - All the products and stores (except supermarkets) I’ve left links to in this post sell online as I know that many of you will probably find it easier to shop online.

Craft activities

Activity books

There’s a wide variety of activity books out there so you’re bound to find something out there that will interest you. 

Here’s a YouTube video I did all about activity books if you’d find it easier to watch.

Some of the activity books out there include:

  • Puzzle books: word search, sudoku, kriss kross, crossword etc.
  • Sticker-by-numbers
  • Journal type activity books
  • Art activity books
  • Colouring activity books
  • Sketch art
You can by activity books from a wide number of places including: bookstores (such as WHSmith, Waterstones, and other bookstores including independent bookstores), Amazon, supermarkets, The RangeThe Works

Card making kits

Card making kits are a great activity to do in bed as you get nearly everything you need to make your cards in the kit and then you can add whatever isn’t included like glue and scissors to do the activity. You can also pace yourself such as by only making one or two cards at a time. 

There are a lot of kits out there, check out the brands Violet Studio and Gorguss. Also check out the stores HobbyCraft, The Range and The Works.

Assembling die cuts

One activity that I do really enjoy doing in bed is assembling die cuts to make cards. What I do is on the Sunday I have my social hours with my PA Jo we sit and cut out die cuts on my die cutting machine so then I have die cut sets organised into envelopes ready to use for an in bed activity.

If you are able to spend time out of bed to prepare die cuts for this activity I’d recommend an electric die cutting machine as they’re much easier to use than manual ones. I have the Gemini Junior machine. It cuts up to an A5 piece of card so it’s not too big and it’s a just about lift-able weight.

If you aren’t able to get out of bed and you have a good size over bed table (like the one I have) and you either have a nearby socket or plug extension it would be possible to die cut in bed if you keep yourself tidy and organised with the die cuts you’re using, the paper you’re cutting and the scraps you’ve used, tools and other equipment etc. If you can find a way that works for you it’s an activity that I’d highly recommend.

I’d also recommend Sizzix thinlits die cuts and their card stock packs as well as this and this Violet Studio paper pads for die cutting.

Craft kits

There is a wide variety of craft kits out there and like with card making kits you more-or-less get everything you need and I’m sure you’ll find a kit to try out. There’s needle punch, mosaic coasters, macramé, cross stitch, embroidery, decoupage, diamond art, iris folding and so much more - all activities you can do in bed. Personally I love iris folding and diamond art kits to do in bed.

Places I’ve found kits are HobbyCraft, The Range, The Works, Amazon, Baker Ross, Etsy, Not On The Highstreet, The Craft Kit Company and Pretty in Paper by B (for iris folding kits).


This is another great activity that you can easily do from your bed. There are lots of difficulty level colouring books out there. I really enjoy Joanna Basford’s publications. 

Not only are there colouring books out there you can get colour in stickers, postcards and notecards (which you can send to friends and pen pals) as well as other colour in activities such as colouring journals.


This isn’t something I do myself but it was an activity a friend suggested. You can keep a scrapbook on almost anything, in memory of a pet or loved one, received mail, special memories, a year in your life. You can make it as plain or as decorative as you wish. You can also buy scrapbook kits to get you started and then the rest is up to your imagination. Pinterest might be good places to go for scrapbook page layout ideas. - For more see ‘journalling’ below.

Crochet and knitting

This is another activity that can easily be done in bed. If you don’t know how to crochet or knit you can learn from YouTube or books - that’s how I learnt to crochet, or you could spend time with a family member or friend who can crochet or knit and get them to teach you.

You could buy a crochet or knitting kit that has everything you need and these kits vary depending on you ability from beginner to advanced or you could buy your own yarn and supplies and follow patterns. You can get patterns from pattern books: beginner patterns for crochet and for knitting, books, Pinterest, YouTube, free projects from HobbyCraft for crochet and knitting, crochet/knitting magazines, websites and blogs such as a crochet one I use called The Turtle Trunk for crochet.

Books, reading etc.


Books I find are a great way to get lost in something. You can spend 5 minutes reading or you can spend an hour it’s entirely up to what you feel able to do. There are lots of book genres out there so I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy.

I used to love reading but when I got ill I lost the ability to read but I’ve started to pick it back up again. Sometimes I can read a lot others times my reading ability slows down again which is why I love audiobooks as an alternative but I do love reading a book in my hands.

There are things that can help you with reading such as reading windows, reading rulers and coloured overlays to help reduce visual stress. Many smartphones now also come with a built in CCTV magnifier so using that to enlarge the text may help too. If you struggle to hold a book you might want to try a book holder to make it easier for you - the one on the link sits on a table but you can get ones with a clamp that you could attach to a bed side rail or grab rail.

You can buy books from a number of places, bookstores obviously and also Amazon. I personally like to get second hand good quality books as they are a lot cheaper; one place I order from is World Of Books.


These are a good alternative to traditional books. I like e-books as I find them to be more accessible than traditional books.

You can buy e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle, the Kobo Clara, the Lenovo and many other makes and models depending upon what you want out your e-reader such as Bluetooth, paper white screens, stylus pens, connection to the WiFi and audiobooks etc.

I personally just use the free Kindle app which I’ve downloaded onto my iPad so here I can have all the accessibility options and settings I need. I also get e-books with my subscription to Scribd.

I find e-books cheaper to purchase and some of them can sync with audiobooks I have on Audible. 

If you’re an avid reader on Kindle you can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited which gives you access to a wide range of e-books, audiobooks and some magazines too.

I find my Flexzi great for holding my iPad when I’m reading an e-book and if you have an e-reader you can attach the case via a Velcro patch to the Flexzi so you can mount your e-reader to the Flexzi stand. You can also buy remote controlled page turners for Kindle e-readers, iPads/tablets and iPhones making it easier to read in bed. I find using a remote saving me a lot of arm ache especially when I’m laid in bed reading.

The Happy Newspaper

The Happy Newspaper I find is a nice alternative and it’s a really easy low energy activity I find. It gives me the opportunity to be able to read but in a more accessible way. You can easily dip in and out of the newspaper reading just a couple of articles at a time if that’s all you can manage and as the name suggests it’s full of happy and positive news stories so it’s very positive and upbeat. I love the illustrations and design of the newspaper. It comes in compostable packaging and what I do with old newspapers is I cut out news stories and put them in pen pal letters and I also use the newspaper for my envelope art.


I’m not really into magazines like I used to. I used to like Elle, Elle Decoration and Vogue. I also used to subscribe to Mollie Makes magazine which I liked as each magazine came with a free craft kit of some kind. I also get my membership magazines from the charities I’m a member of.

What I like about magazines is you can dip in and out of them. You can read an article here and then put it down to pick up later. They also tend to be filled with a variety of different kind of articles so there might be one aspect that might not particularly take your interest but there might be other features on other topics that do interest you. Articles also vary in length from small columns to two page spreads so you can just read what you feel able to do at that time.

There’s all sorts of magazines out there on a wide range of topics from lifestyle, interior design, fashion, crafts, various hobbies mindfulness and wellbeing to sports and more. The only downside is when buying a magazine you generally want to flick through it to see if it’s something you’ll like before you buy it; you can’t do this if you’re buying a magazine for the first time online if you’re unable to go shopping in person. My advice is if you’re unable to go and buy a magazine in person yourself if possible ask someone who knows you well to browse the magazine aisles for you to find some magazines that they think you might like and if you do enjoy that magazine then you can in future buy it again online. Alternatively you can now read online magazine such as on the Kindle app.

Some places to buy magazines from are supermarkets, local small shops, WHSmith, and Kindle Magazines.

Video/Audio content


Audiobooks are pretty much a lifeline for me. I like listening to a book as I wind down for bed and when my energy levels are low I like to just lay in bed and listen to my current book.

If you have a ‘print disability’: 

A print disability may refer to someone with a visual impairment, cognitive impairment, specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, or physical disability. With a physical disability a print disability may mean that the person struggles to read a book, hold a book or turn a page for example. 

Having a print disability may make you eligible for free audiobook libraries or a subsidised subscriptions with some audiobook libraries.

Some of the audiobook libraries I’ve used and would recommend are:

  • RNIB Library (free) - audiobook app or audio CD’s can be sent to you; as many books as you want each month. 
  • Listening Books (subscription or you can have the fee waived) - audiobook app; as many books as you want each month.
  • Everand aka Scribd (subscription) - audiobook and e-book app; as many books as you want each month. 
  • Audible (subscription) - audiobook app, can sync with some kindle books, one credit = 1 book a month; more credits can be purchased, offers available both on signing up to the library and also on books such as 2 books for 1 credit or £1.99 books, there is also the plus catalog with unlimited books available.
  • Your local library (free) - many now have an online audiobook library or may have a home library service where volunteers can bring audiobook CD’s out to you.

BBC Sounds

This is an app but you can also access it online too. On there you can listen to live BBC radio stations, past radio shows, check out the radio schedules, listen to music and BBC podcasts.

There’s lots to chose from each radio station and their shows are quite different, some have chat shows, some play a variety of music genres depending on the station, some discuss current affairs, some commentate live sports and more.

The music you can select from a range of playlists of different music genres.

There is a wide of podcasts (most of the podcasts I listen to are BBC podcasts) and they also come in a wide variety of genres and cover a wide variety of interests and you can listen to BBC podcasts on other platforms like Apple Podcasts too.


I really enjoy listening to podcasts and I listen to a wide variety of genres of podcasts from true crime to talk shows through to documentary podcasts.

I listen to a lot of BBC podcasts that are available on BBC Sounds but I get them through Apple Podcasts. You can also get podcasts on other platforms like Spotify or Google Podcasts.

There are a lot of home grown podcasts out there too that people do for enjoyment or as a hobby or because they want to give a platform to others to give their guests a voice on their show a voice. 

Some podcasts are in an interview style, some are chatty, some are more informative and information giving, whilst others are dramatised. There’s so so much out there you’re bound to find something that interests you and in a style you like too.


I quite enjoy listening to the radio sometimes depending on the station and what show is on. Personally I like BBC Radio and I listen to it through the BBC Sounds app but there are a lot of other commercial stations out there too that you can listen to either through apps, the web or on a DAB radio.

Sometimes I like putting on stations that play music other times I just like the talk shows where they just discuss current affairs and have guest speakers on the show. I find the talking on the radio gives me a bit of company.


This can be something enjoyable to do that won’t require too much energy. You can get music on places like Apple Music, Amazon Music, BBC Sounds or Spotify. - Some of these you can access the music for free others you have to subscribe to and/or you may get ads in between songs.

TV programs and films

Watching TV programs and films is another activity you can do in bed. I love getting into a good box set or having a cosy film night.

You can watch either on a television in your bedroom or on a tablet or laptop. For me this is where my Flexzi 3 iPad/tablet mount comes in super handy especially when I’m reclined or laid in bed.

You can either watch live TV or catch-up streaming TV such as on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 etc, or on subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and more. If you don’t have a smart TV you can buy a Roku to access streaming channels on your television. (Also if you’re in the UK make sure your household has a TV license.)


I quite enjoy YouTube and I like the variety of what’s on there; there’s literally something for everyone. I also like that you can find videos that vary in length from 5 minute videos through to 1 hour documentaries. Some TV channels also share their programs or clips of their programs on YouTube. Then you also get more home grown YouTube channels.


Handheld Gaming

The first hand held gaming consoles that come to mind is the Nintendo Switch (there’s different versions of these like the Switch Lite) but there are others out there. You can just buy handheld games consoles that play just one game like Tetris or tamagotchi. I don’t have a handheld gaming console myself as it’s not something I think I’d be really into but it’s an easy activity to do in bed and there is a wide choice of devices and games to choose from out there. - I do however miss my Nintendo DS Lite though that I used to own and I wish that I still had that as I enjoyed my DS and the games I had for it.

If you have a television in your bedroom you might also want to play games on things like an Xbox or Play Station.

Tablet/phone games

I enjoy playing games on my iPad and iPhone. I like to play a variety of games some of my favourite things to play are card games, Angry Birds, 1010, Scrabble, Two Dots, The Sims, design games and more. 

I find it easier personally to play on my iPad as the screen is bigger. I can also also dim the screen and reduce the white point to help with my light sensitivity.

Digital colouring 

If you’re not a big fan of traditional colouring or if it’s something that you find difficult to do you might want to try out colouring game apps instead. There’s lots to choose from from drawing apps, to picture colouring. Some apps are free and others you subscribe to. You can find them on your App Store on you phone or tablet.


I am a big fan of games and many can be played whilst you’re in bed; they’re also a great way to spend time with others and ease some of that isolation you may feel. - This is where an over bed table comes in helpful. 

There are so many games out there, more than I can list. There are different board games; some of my favourite games are Bananagrams, Quirkle, Carcassonne, Rummikub, and Splendor. Some of these games we have to get the travel version of so they fit on my over bed table but me and my family manage to play many different games on an over bed table even my smaller table before I got my bigger over bed table.



I always feel brighter when I’ve done my nails. (I own more bottles of polish than I dare count!) You can buy nail polish bottle holders if you’re worried about knocking over a bottle of polish; I also use an old flannel to put under my hand for any accidental mistakes.

I love doing nail art too from simple nail art animals, using nail foil, stickers, tape or water transfer stickers there’s so much you can learn to do. (Pinterest is a great place for inspiration and tutorials.)

If doing your own nails isn’t something that is possible for you to do you could ask a family member, friend or caregiver to do your nails for you. Alternatively some nail techniques work in the community and can come to you and I’m sure they can find a suitable set up to from your bed. To find mobile nail technicians just search for ones in your area on places like Google or social media such as Facebook or ask someone to ask around for you.


Another thing I love sitting in bed and doing is styling my hair. Feeling pretty, even when I’m going nowhere nor really seeing anyone makes me feel better and boosts my wellbeing. (I touched upon this in my Living with Severe M.E. post.)

I like doing different styles and watching YouTube video tutorials and learning how to do new styles. I’ve found videos on low-energy hair styles to more complex styles that I still haven’t quite mastered yet. But it’s another activity you can do in bed and something new to learn as well plus making you feel a bit glam at the same time.


Like nail technicians you can get mobile beauty therapists; you can find specialist beauty therapists who specialise and have training in treating people with chronic health problems. The latter might have more understanding in your needs from massage therapy and how best to treat you.

I see a lady called Hollie and she works in the community and brings a whole set up with her when she comes and Hollie will tailor everything to you. She’ll massage you wherever you feel comfortable so some people she treats in their wheelchair or in a chair but for me I lay in my bed.

To find medically trained massage therapists try looking at the Amethyst Trust 


Rest means different things to different people. For some it’s not doing nothing and allowing the mind and body to stop for a while, for others this doesn’t work for them and they find they prefer to do a restful activity. Here’s a blog post on rest that I wrote if you want to read more.

Mindfulness meditation 

I find taking time in the day to rest is really important for pacing especially as I have an energy limiting illness so I always try to schedule in at least one rest period in my day especially after a high level activity.

There’s lots of different meditations out there from body scanning, to breathing exercises, visualisation and more. I really like the Calm app but there’s others out there, my advice is to go on your app store download a few and try them out before committing to a paid subscription. You can also get some free mindfulness meditations on YouTube but some do have adds in the middle of them so it’s a bit hit-and-miss. I really like the colour meditation that I found on YouTube that I find very restful.


Soundscapes are a different to doing a mindfulness meditation. I find listening to soundscapes gives my mind and body the opportunity to just stop for a while so I’m not constantly on the go physically, mentally or cognitively. Sometimes I listen to a soundscape for just 10 minutes sometimes it’s an hour, especially if I’m feeling burnt out and crashed.

Some soundscapes are just repetitive sounds like waves crashing on a beach or rain falling on leaves. I prefer constructed soundscapes (I’m not sure if that’s the proper name for them but I’ll go with that). These are soundscapes that almost take you to a place and take you on a journey, like for example my favourite Central Park soundscape it takes me through a whole sequence of sound effects to make up a narrative to make me feel as though I’m really there. I here dogs barking, people taking as they walk past, passing vehicles, sirens, an overhead plane, the chime of a clock tower bell, a vendor cart being pushed, a  bicycle, children playing and more. I also like the constructed Costa Rican jungle soundscape. Both of these I get on the Calm app but I’m sure you can find them elsewhere on other relaxation apps or on YouTube.

I used to use the Better Sleep app and on there as well as there being a bank of meditations and sleep stories you can also construct your own soundscapes including ASMR sounds.

Other activities 

Pen Palling

Writing letters to friends and pen pals is something that I love doing and it’s something that I’ve done for many years now. I’m definitely a believer than hand written mail is much nicer than a digital message; it’s much more personal I feel too.

You don’t have to have lots of supplies to get you started with pen palling, just a writing set or some note cards or some hand made cards, pens, maybe some stickers and/or washi tape and of course stamps. You can also send postcards too as an alternative.

There isn’t a set amount to how much you write, some of my received/sent letters are a few pages long others are just a little postcard. What I love is that between me and my pen pals we all understand that what we’ve written, however little or much is what we’ve been able to do at that time, especially for shorter replies. Often with my longer-ish letters they do take me days to write (or type) and I just add a little here and there until my reply is finished.

Like I just said above instead of hand writing your letters if it’s easier for you you could type your letters. When I type my letters I jazz them up on my computer with coloured font and I add in pretty illustrations like flowers, koalas or rainbows.

Here’s a blog post I read on how to start pen palling.

If you struggle to write or type but would like to send mail to a friend you could ask a family member, friend or caregiver to write down on your behalf what you want to say. I know a friend of mine does this and it still enables her to send mail to friends when she is able to and it means a lot to me to hear from her.

Warrior Card Swap with the CWC

An alternative to pen palling if you just want to send occasional mail could be joining in the with Warrior Card Swap run by the Chronic Warrior Collective.

This is just a monthly card swap that you can opt to join in or out of each month (in case you’re having a bad time). You can opt to write to someone within your own country or internationally; in return you’ll receive mail from someone else. Don’t panic, if you opt in and get stuck and find that you can’t send mail to your swap you can click for help and the Yikes Team will step in for you.

You can also opt to receive faith based cards if you wish. You have a little bio which your match sees so they’ll know a bit about you. You can also opt to say that you’d be interested in making friends and pen pals with your swap if you wish. I’ve made some lovely friends and pen pals through the swap and I find the CWC organisation very supportive if I need and help, support or advice.


This activity may or may not interest you but I thought I’d include it as I find for me it’s something I can easily do from my bed.

There are different blogging platforms; I personally prefer to use Blogger but there’s also also WordPressSquareSpace and Wix to name a few. Different people get on with different sites and it depends on what layout design you want your blog to look like and the features available and the ease of creating content for your blog as well as adding external elements to your blog such as pop ups etc. I did try WordPress myself for a short while but I personally couldn’t get on with it so I switched back over to Blogger. You can also either get a free web domain or you can purchase a website domain like I have for this blog.

What I like about blogging is I can work at my own pace. I can type here and there for however long I can manage at that time and I can pace myself with getting blog posts written. Then with special events like Awareness Events if I plan ahead I can try to get a post pre-written and ready to auto publish for that event like I’m going to do for next month (May is a busy month as it’s both EDS and M.E. Awareness Month!)

So starting a blog might be something you want to consider if you’re looking for a new project or hobby. You could have a particular focus such as sharing short stories or poems that you enjoy writing, or you could give it a focus on a special interest of yours such as book reviews or like me you could just write about anything and everything that interests you.

Even if you just write one post a month that’s still something and it’s more a project and activity for yourself to work on.

If you don’t want to blog yourself there are plenty of bloggers out there who all blog about different things so I’m sure you can find some different blogs that might take your interest to read them.


There are lots of different types of journaling: bullet journaling, art journaling, photo journaling, scrapbooking journals, planners, junk jornals etc. 

I’ve kept a photo journal in the past; I have a Sprocket photo printer that prints photos off my phone and I can edit the photos, add text, stickers, borders etc. and the photo is a sticker so it’s perfect for photo journaling. 

I also have a bullet journal, I’ve had a few of these over the years. My current one I just journal different things on like my fundraising, I keep a log of the books I’ve read and rate the out of 5 and have a pixel a day migraine log, blog and YouTube video ideas, so rather random but quite helpful. I like the visual nature of it; it’s like my brain in a journal and I’m a creative person as it is so I think having a bullet journal suites me. I’m also trying to use it more to steamline my life.

You can buy bullet journals in all sorts of sizes and designs. I love the illustrated Roger La Borde journals which I used for my photo journaling. You can also buy starter kits such as these I’ve found for you:


Pinterest is an app, you can also log onto it on the website too. I really enjoy spending time on Pinterest looking for ideas on different things and pinning ideas to my different (and very organised) boards. I get ideas for my bullet journal, nail art, my home, makeup, crafting, organisation, my Cricut machine, pen palling, hex codes for colour pallets and more. When I was getting ready to move home I designed my new home all on Pinterest and got lots of fab furniture ideas such as my craft desk IKEA furniture combo. I can spend a long time on Pinterest and I find I get lost in it and I find it a great activity and a fab way to get inspired.