By U.S. Pain Foundation staff

COVID-19 cases are increasing, and so are the number of individuals stuck at home—whether by choice or because of quarantine.

Staying at home for the recommended two weeks can seem daunting, but for people with serious chronic illnesses, being homebound (at least temporarily) is not abnormal. Many times, chronic pain makes it difficult to get out and about, especially on a particularly bad pain day.

Below, our team members with chronic pain offer some advice for how to keep busy while indoors.

Tips for staying active inside

Lori Monarca, Executive Office Manager and Director of the Ambassador Program, recommends the following: “Reading books, coloring or drawing, researching new recipes/trying out new recipes, and organizing.” If you have a yard, she also suggests planting or gardening as a way to get fresh air with minimal risks.

Nicole Hemmenway, interim CEO and mother of three, seconds coloring! “Having three young boys at home, I find myself coloring and building Legos often; surprisingly, I enjoy these activities and find them to be a great distraction. I also like planning a Google Hangout chat with friends. Because everyone at U.S. Pain works remotely, we use them for staff meetings. They’re a great way to connect from far away.”

Cooking and art are common themes for the team. Michele Rice, a Senior Ambassador Advocate, says she likes to paint. “A couple of other ideas are reading, watching a mini-series or movies, catching up on organizational tasks at home, and baking or cooking a new recipe.”

Janet Jay, a writer for the INvisible Project, loves knitting. “Everybody in my family got scarves this year for Christmas! And I’ve just been working on my stenciling art.”

It’s not always about being productive, she points out. “Marathoning TV is great, but I think playing games like “Breath of the Wild” on the Switch; this did more in the last year or two to get my mind away from my pain than anything else. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Ellen Lenox Smith, Director of Medical Cannabis Advocacy, is used to finding ways to be productive at home. One of her main suggestions is to “Write about living with pain. Consider submitting to the National Pain Report or The Mighty.” She also echoes the recommendations for coloring and gardening, and points out you can always start seedlings inside.

Michaela O’Connor, Director of the eNews, believes in the value of self-care. “Baths, masks, painting nails, and other sorts of pampering is great.”

Like many people with pain, she sometimes has insomnia. “In the night, I always enjoy a little TV or a podcast. There are podcasts about everything these days… living with chronic illness, cooking and baking, politics, art, investigative journalism, everything! Find something you’re interested in, and enjoy yourself!”

For Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, there is plenty of work to be done, even from home. “I would use the time to read bills and advocate for or against them or read pain articles… that is because I am a policy geek. No knitting for me!”

How do you make the most of time at home? 

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