Staying busy while stuck in isolation

One thing about life with disabling chronic illnesses is that I was better prepared than most for life at home. After all, so often I am stuck at home due to my health, or I need to do stay home in order to rest up so that I can go out later on. A lot of my hobbies and interests are sedentary ones, thanks to my health, so the transition was easy in that regard. The social part is difficult, of course, but staying busy is easy. In fact, I don’t even have time to get everything done!

Meanwhile, most people I know who weren’t working full time from home and didn’t have young children at home were at a loss as to how to stay busy. As things opened up, many of them found adventures outdoors. I am still staying home, though. I would not go anyplace indoors or around other people. I do not feel that is safe in my area. As for outdoor adventures, I have no one to go on an adventure with. I live alone, and there is no one I am comfortable being in contact with right now, unfortunately. A picnic alone might be safe, but it’s lonely. A walk in the woods where people are around isn’t safe, and walking with no one around at all doesn’t feel smart. I would love to see the ocean, but I can’t drive that far right now, and I can not get into a car with someone else. So I am spending a lot of time at home.

People keep asking me how I am managing to stay busy. Here are a few of the things I have been doing. Please share yours in the comments, to help anyone who’s bored to get some new ideas.

  • House stuff. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and all of that less-than-exciting stuff still has to be done, even during a pandemic.
  • Physical therapy. I am doing more than ever because my body is not doing well with all of this sitting in my apartment. It’s not like I was super active before, but even walking around a grocery store is exercise that I’m no longer getting.
  • Medical appointments. My body doesn’t stop having problems just because there’s a virus ravaging the world. I am having almost all of my appointments virtually, which has saved me a lot of energy and time, but I am still having them.
  • New hobbies. At the start of the pandemic, I figured I better start something new to make up a bit for all I was losing. I had wanted to try the ukelele for years, so I bought one. I have already learned a bunch of songs through free YouTube tutorials. I practice most days and it’s a lot of fun.
  • Old hobbies. For many years I have loved to read, crochet, and knit. Those are perfect pandemic hobbies. I did them daily before, and I continue to do them daily. I watch tv in the evenings, too. Before I watched tv any evening that I didn’t go out. Now, I watch tv every evening that I don’t have a Zoom call. *sigh* Oh, and this blog counts, too. Hobbies aren’t only things that are done daily, and writing here every few weeks is a great activity.
  • Volunteering. I did some volunteering before and I still do it. Because of my disabilities, I only volunteered for work that could be done primarily from home. That made the transition easy. I have taken on extra tasks, too.
  • Errands. Yup, those things still need to happen. I find shopping for groceries online to take a lot longer than going in person used to take. Dropping off paperwork at an office can still be done, even if I don’t go inside. Shopping for things online that I would typically get in person is a chore that takes ages, but it still needs to happen.
  • Social media. Some days social media is a drain that wastes my time, but many days it adds value to my life. I manage several Facebook groups and pages in addition to having my own personal feed. It’s a great way to keep up with family and friends.
  • Email, texts, and video chats. I often joke that I have a better social life now than I did before, but it’s sort of true. Meeting online isn’t the same as meeting in person, but it’s a hell of a lot easier. Since it takes so much less energy, and I don’t have the physical pain that comes with driving, I am able to have multiple social video chats in one day! I certainly couldn’t meet up with that many people in person in a single day. Plus, many people I am talking to aren’t local, and we are now realizing that we should have been doing these video chats for years. Hopefully we’ll keep them up. Email and texts take ages to answer. I’m glad for the opportunity to keep up with folks, but I do miss the ease and speed of phone calls.
  • Cleaning out…. things. Between cleaning out all of my way-too-many-what-was-I-thinking? email accounts and cleaning out physical stuff, there’s plenty to do. I’m enjoying the rewards of empty inboxes (yay for inbox zero! Even if it only lasts an hour….) and more space in my apartment.
  • YouTube videos. I have been watching lots of YouTube videos. There are opportunities to see things that wouldn’t typically be available, in addition to all of the previous kinds of content. I have been enjoying interviews with Broadway actors who were/are in isolation, cute dog videos (oh, how I miss dogs!), crochet tutorials, and so much more. I particularly like this channel for things that are disability-related.

All of that, plus random other things that I’m sure I’ve forgotten, are keeping me plenty busy. A few other things you could try would be taking online courses at a local college or through sites like or (hint: many libraries offer free memberships). You could also learn crafts online with YouTube videos or by taking classes, which are offered in many places. Try reading new books, listening to audiobooks, or trying new podcasts. Watch movies you’d always wanted to watch. Learn a language. Research your family genealogy. Redecorate your home in small, manageable ways.

I have noticed that many people are worried about taking up a new hobby or project, thinking they won’t have time to keep it up when things return to “normal.” Why start something that they will just have to give up later? But I don’t think that’s the right attitude. Instead, why not start something you can enjoy while you’re in this difficult state? Then later one, when life returns to “normal” or some other state, you can decide what to keep. You may just find that you enjoy your new hobby more than something you did before, and you will let go of the former. Or you might rotate them. There are no set rules here; you get to make it up as you go along!

So that’s what’s been keeping me busy, along with a few extra ideas for you. Please share your ideas in the comment! After all, these ideas will be useful for anyone who is in isolation during the pandemic, as well as anyone who is stuck at home due to disability and/or illness in the future.

6 Responses to Staying busy while stuck in isolation

  1. Lorna Griffith says:

    I am not at all ‘bored’ by staying in. The only time I have been out is every four weeks to have my toci infusion. The nurses put me in a room of my own and I have one nurse overseeing my care.
    My hubby has been taking me and the dog for short drives in the afternoon to deserted countryside to get fresh air and a little exercise. I live on the edge of a village and we have woods and fields and a brook. He walks the dog on his own for about four to five hours in the morning.
    I have many of the same hobbies as you. However I am an avid jigsaw puzzler. I still have the jigsaw board my Dad made me over forty odd years ago. My favourite jigsaws usually have a dog in there somewhere. Lol! I also do cross stitch, colouring and painting. I have also been researching mine and hubby’s ancestry and making a family tree. I have made a book for my son with photos, mementos etc about my life and his life growing up. I have been trying to use the sewing machine if my hands cooperate but hubby usually has to take over. We have been cleaning, sorting and decorating too.
    My number one favourite hobby is reading!
    Big hugs and kisses from Tu-Lei the gsp

    • chronicrants says:

      Woah, 4-5 hour walks!?! Your husband and dog are getting a lot of exercise! I love the idea of drives in the countryside. That sounds so lovely, and it gets you out and about without having to expend a lot of energy. Your hobbies sound like a lot of fun. I love the looks of cross stitching, though I’ve never done it myself (that wouldn’t work well with my joint pains). It sounds like you have lots going on and are enjoying your many projects. That’s fantastic! Enjoy! And what kinds of books are you reading these days? Any recommendations?

  2. I had no trouble keeping myself entertained during our 3-month lockdown. I had plenty of chorse, and then I had videogames, books, and my blog. I even learned to bake with yeast (Q15 is real). Once back to the office, I found I really didn’t like going out of the house and risking exposure. While I do have to work to pay bills (and unfortunately, my company is not set up for remote work), I still stay away from crowds as much as possible, and now I’ll be going to a 3-day work week, which will limit the exposure a little. Our virus numbers are starting to rise with the start of the school year, and I don’t even want to go to the grocery store if I don’t have to. The only thing I miss is having family get-togethers, but we all keep in touch on Facebook or by text, and we manage to meet individually (with masks). It could be a lot worse.

    • chronicrants says:

      Cordeliasmom2012, I’m so glad that you’ve been able to stay busy and are doing well overall. I’m so sorry that you had to go back to work, and also that your area’s numbers have been going up again. It’s great that you’re maintaining connections with family and friends. Good luck! I hope it continues to be manageable for you.

  3. Tamara Epps says:

    I have been mostly household for 9 years, so other than not being able to go to the supermarket once a week, life has stayed pretty much the same for me, though I’m very grateful I can now see my girlfriend as I am in ‘bubble’ with her household (as I live alone, and her parents are also vulnerable this feels fairly safe).

    I spend most of my time watching TV shows and films (I use Netflix, Prime, and Disney plus to prevent aimless channel flicking) and listening to podcasts via Spotify. I do some cross stitch, some colouring, and write letters to friends and through Post Pals (UK charity that enables anyone to send mail to ill children and their siblings), and I’m also, very slowly, teaching myself to sew (currently making masks for friends and family is teaching me to iron and see straight lines). I’m also finally able to cook/bake occasionally and am slowly filling My freezer with homemade ‘ready meals’. My favourite place for inspiration for all of the above is Pinterest.

    • chronicrants says:

      It’s wonderful that you and your girlfriend can be in a bubble. And great that you already have a good set-up that works for you. Post Pals sounds like such a wonderful idea. I’m a big fan of feeling my freezer with food too. It’s so great to have meals available that are safe for me to eat. I hope you continue to enjoy all of that! And hopefully others will get some inspiration from these great ideas.

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