If you suffer from chronic pain, you already know how hard being alone is for days on end.
And with a pandemic, statewide lockdowns, and public spaces closed, staying at home may feel intense right now.
With a few adjustments to your daily routine and lifestyle, you can stay productive and centered and connected to others.
Here are some tips to keep your morale up while you’re staying at home through this challenging time.
Remember: Stay at home! We’ll flatten the curve by all doing our part.
1. Keep a routine
The structure of a daily routine helps your mind focus and relax.
Keeping a routine will break down the sense of empty space brought on by isolation.
Write out what you normally do. When do you usually eat, go to bed, etc.?
Then write out some things you want to accomplish with additional free time.
Add in leisure activities, time for fun and light exercise.
Throughout this article, we’ll give you suggestions for daily activities to add to your routine and how to build it.
At the end of the article, you’ll find a sample routine.
2. Try time blocking
One of the best ways to stick to a routine is to block it out hour-by-hour on your calendar.
Email calendars are great for time blocking because they allow you to get reminders across your devices.
We recommend Google Calendar, but you can use any email calendar.
Set a reminder for each task on the calendar for 30 minutes and 10 minutes before it’s time to start. To do that, just click on the reminder function when you create the event.
Time blocking for the week usually takes around 30 minutes, but it’s time well spent.
The calendar of daily tasks gives you a sense of purpose throughout your day. That’s really important when you’re stuck at home for days on end.
It can be hard to muster the willpower and discipline to follow your routine without using time blocking. Learn more about how to do it here.
3. Make your bed when you wake up
If you haven’t watched the viral video “If You Want to Change The World, Start Off By Making Your Bed,” by US Navy Admiral William McRaven, do it.
The gist of his speech is that making your bed right when you wake up gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride that sets the tone for your entire day.
This minute-long task gives you some momentum and drive.
4. Journal after you make your bed
Before you take your first sip of coffee or tea, write in a journal for at least 20 minutes.
This requires some willpower to get going. But, sticking with it can do a lot for your mental health and creativity throughout the day.
Journaling is release work. Think of it as your personal therapist, free of charge. This is your opportunity to release whatever emotions and thoughts have been on your mind.
The key is to write stream-of-consciousness. If you can, write in long-hand, as this gives your mind more time to process your thoughts than if you were typing on a keyboard. Just keep the pen moving.
Also, when the pandemic is over, you’ll have a record of your experience. That could hold tremendous personal value to you in the coming years.
5. Meditate in the morning and/or evening
Meditation is one of the best ways to rest your mind and find peace.
Spending time alone with your thoughts can feel daunting, but it can help you stay centered when you’re isolated.
Meditation has numerous health benefits, such as reducing the feeling of loneliness, relieving stress, and lowering inflammation.
With some practice (10-15 minutes a day to begin), you’ll become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. The more you meditate, the easier it is to navigate and control your emotions and negative thoughts.
Some tips to get started:
- Try sitting in a comfortable chair or couch with both feet on the floor.
- Place your hands on your thighs. Keep your spine upright, but not stiff.
- Gently close your eyes and breathe. Breath in. Breath out. Just be. That’s it. 10-15 minutes every day to start.
- If you want something more active, try Wim Hof’s breathing technique.
6. Get dressed in the morning
When you’re at home all the time, you want to be comfortable, especially if you’re in pain. But being comfortable doesn’t have to mean you’re in your pj’s, sweats or bathrobe all day long.
You can wear comfortable clothing, just dress like you would in public or for casual Friday at your job.
This simple act sends cues to your subconscious mind that you’re doing something purposeful and that its time to get focused.
And, if you are working from home, it will help you be more productive.
7. Limit your news intake
When you drink your morning coffee or tea, the urge to learn the new details about the pandemic is strong.
Do yourself a favor: put the phone down. Turn the TV off.
Moderate exposure to constant negative news will take a toll on your morale, anxiety and overall fearfulness.
Staying informed is important, but you should strictly monitor your media diet.
Pick a few trusted sources for nationwide news updates. Get regional updates from your local health department. Search the Centers for Disease Control for national health updates, and the World Health Organization for worldwide changes in the pandemic. Check updates once, maybe twice a day. Try to give everything else a break.
Your mind will thank you, and you’ll keep your morale up to get your day’s tasks done.
8. Exercise every day
Nothing will calm your mind and give you energy like exercise.
Try to make exercise a top priority every day. If you suffer from chronic pain or a condition that makes exercise difficult, you have some options.
This website has several articles and videos for exercises specific to conditions. You can search through them here.
Go for a gentle walk outside each day for 30 minutes. Always follow your local social distancing guidelines.
If you’re confined to a bed or none of those options work for your condition, drop us a line here or leave us a comment on this post, and let us know what you’re struggling with. We’ll do our best to give you some daily exercise suggestions.
9. Keep your house clean
This accomplishes two very important tasks:
1. It helps prevent the transmission of disease
2. It helps you feel better.
A clean home not only keeps you and your family healthy, but it also keeps your mind healthy.
The state of your home often reflects the state of your mind.
Household chores can be difficult for chronic pain sufferers. The good news is that there are modifications to the most problematic household cleaning chores. View some common chores to avoid and their pain-free modifications in this article.
10. Smile and play!
Keeping your morale up also means having some fun every day.
Set aside time to play a game or practice a hobby that gives you pleasure.
If you’re at home with others, pull out an old board game or order a new online.
If you’re stuck at home alone, try a mobile game like Words With Friends or Draw Something that allows you to play with others online. Search your App Store or Android Store for these games and others.
Puzzles are another good way to keep your mind sharp while having fun.
Also, smile and laugh as much as you can right now. Put on some funny shows or movies. Turn on a comedy album. Anything that will give you a quick laugh will help your morale.
11. Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Diet. is. everything.
What you put into your body will determine so much of how your body and mind feels throughout the day.
So what do you eat? Start by adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
Anti-inflammatory foods help lower the discomfort caused by chronic pain and autoimmune conditions.
A clean diet also helps boost your state of mind.
The less inflammation you have, the calmer you’re going to feel mentally and physically.
The plan has a ton of delicious anti-inflammatory recipes, and it comes with a thorough grocery list that shows you exactly what to order online or buy at the grocery store.
READ MORE: 6 Essential Foods for Healthy Lungs
12. Share something inspiring
You can boost your morale by lifting up others.
Each day, try to share some love and inspiration with your community.
A few ideas:
- Leave a big tip for the delivery person or grocery store clerk.
- Drop off some of your surplus at a shelter in your community.
- Seek out an uplifting message and share it on social media.
If you found this article, you probably have Facebook. Make a habit out of finding one tidbit of inspiration every day and sharing it with others.
It may not seem like a lot, but you never know how your message can lift up others.
Here’s one to get you started:
“When we feel responsible, concerned and committed, we begin to feel deep emotion and great courage.” -The 14th Dalai Lama
13. Talk to loved ones every day/Break bread online
This is a crucial daily activity to practice while you’re in isolation. We are social creatures and we need to be social every day to keep our morale up.
Schedule 15-30 minutes every day to talk with your friends and family or neighbors.
It’s helpful to share your concerns with others. But remember, always talking about concerns and problems can be taxing on others if it’s all you talk about.
Take that one inspiring or funny thing you thought of for the day and share it with those you call.
You’ll get a morale boost from making others laugh or feel inspired.
Also, schedule a virtual dinner, lunch or breakfast with friends or family.
If possible, use face-to-face communication like Facetime, Zoom or Google Hangout.
14. Learn one new simple skill each week
Mastering a new simple skill each week is kind of like making your bed every morning.
You’ll get inspiration and momentum to learn more or do more.
To start, pick a skill you could learn in a day or a couple of hours.
This will help you rack up an easy win to build momentum.
We recommend you learn a new stretch or exercise technique to stay healthy and relieve any discomfort. This website has tons of stretches and exercises by condition that will help you gain strength, flexibility and confidence. Search our database here.
15. Get 8 hours of sleep every night
Quality sleep does a lot to improve your mood throughout the day. We know it can be hard to wind down when you’re in pain, anxious and have lots of concerns in the back of your mind. Here are a few tips:
To relax, try this 5-minute stress relief technique when you lay down in your bed.
If you need some natural relief, take a supplement like melatonin that helps support restful sleep. We recommend our supplement Sleepzyme, which promotes quality sleep and doesn’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
Also, try one of these sleeping positions for back pain. Sleeping with good posture will help reduce the discomfort of back pain you may feel throughout your day.
(Optional) Plant an Indoor Garden / Add plants to your home
This is a low-impact activity that will help keep your spirits up day-to-day.
Having plants in your home can improve your mood and the overall feel of your home.
And nothing boosts your morale like seeing a seedling pop up from the dirt in a planter pot.
Herbs like parsley, basil, thyme and cilantro are helpful to have on hand for day-to-day cooking.
Plus, growing plants and vegetables shows how life can grow from nothing.
Most house plants are relatively inexpensive. And growing an herb garden in your home is more affordable and doable than you may think.
You can grow herbs at home even if you’re stuck in an apartment. Try watching these videos from Self Sufficient Me. This cheery gardener shows you what basic supplies you need and step-by-step instructions to grow from home.
If you don’t already have the supplies, you can try ordering what you need online using a local delivery service like Instacart, DoorDash or Amazon.
Be safe. We’ll make it through this together.
P.S. — here’s the sample routine we promised you.
- Journal – 30 minutes
- Meditate – 15 minutes
- Job Work (or work on new skill – 2 hours)
- Walk – 30-45 minutes
- Lunch – 30 minutes
- Work – 2 hours
- Break/Relax – 30 minutes
- Work – 2-3 hours (take 10-minute breaks on the hour!)
- Dinner – 1 hour
- Call friends/family – 30 minutes
- Play a game – 1 hour
- Read – 1 hour
Make sure you create a daily routine tailored to your needs.
What’s your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below.
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