One of the challenges faced by people with ME/CFS is finding activities they are interested in and capable of doing. Probably when you’re really bad you can’t do much of anything, but here are a few things that I’ve tried over the years, sometimes only managing to do them for ten minutes before stopping, but trying again the next days and slowly building up.
Little brain, little energy:
- Have something playing and try to listen to it. (Music, a film, an episode. . .) Understand you probably won’t be able to follow what’s going on or remember it afterwards
Little energy, some brain:
- Watch something and try to follow it
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Brainteasers (wordsearch, sudoku, crossword…) To start with choose ones you’d normally find easy, and see how you go.
- Knitting or crotchet
- Check your email. (Don’t panic or feel bad if you don’t feel up to replying)
Some energy, little brain:
- Some form of art might might be possible, depending on what you’re trying to do. Consider pencil or charcoal so you won’t have to think about colour, or pick a medium and just go for it – see what comes out
- Household tasks that require little thought (e.g. dusting, watering plants, vaccuming)
- Ask someone to take you out. Maybe just drive somewhere pleasant to get out of the house for a while, or if you’re feeling up to it try going to a garden centre where you can stop in at the cafe
Some energy, some brain:
- Art. Reproduce an image you like, sketch from life, decorate an object. Use pencil, acrylic, oil, watercolour, alcohol-markers, pastel, charcoal, ink – there are plenty of mediums to try and many figurines, shapes, models etc. to decorate
- Crafts. Work with fabric, yarn, paper. Make a card or try a small sewing project. (If you hand-sew it then you can work wherever you feel comfortable, or you can get a small basic sewing machine.)
- Pot-gardening. Grow something in a pot that you can keep inside, fill a window-box, or have a planter on a patio. This is small-scale gardening you can do with little help, and sitting inside if the weather’s bad!
- Ask someone to take you out to a shop and have a look around
- Write. Write a list, an email, a diary entry, a letter to a friend. Start a story or a poem
- Sit and talk to someone
Note: I think arts and crafts are good to do because you have a definite start and finish, projects can be small or large, simple or complex to further suit your capabilities, there are a great variety to choose from, and you have a tangible end result. However, they can be expensive to maintain. Also, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to learn a new craft while you’re ill, because if you struggle with it, it may put you off entirely.
Plants can be therapeutic to have around and care for. Certain types require very little attention, and are entirely suitable for indoors – ask someone at the garden centre if you’re uncertain.