Life with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions can be lonely at times. Pain, exhaustion, and other symptoms easily lead to cancelling engagements, giving up hobbies, and social isolation. Your social calendar and life have a new normal. But something is missing. People want interactions and connections, something to do to pass the time. Binge-watching Netflix or reading your Facebook feed only goes so far. And having something easy to do can help distract from pain and find the social interactions again.
It’s possible that gone are the days of playing a round of golf, doubles tennis, or running a marathon. But that’s not to say you can’t find new interests and new ways to connect with people. Many of these hobbies has various ways to interact with people – either with locally in person or virtually online. You just have to look for meet-ups or Facebook groups of your shared interest.
Studies have shown that “social relationships have as much impact on physical health as blood pressure, smoking, physical activity, and obesity.” So even if your chronic illness is a life sentence, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence of isolation and loneliness. We all need to find those things that bring us joy and make us smile and help us connect with others.
10 Easy Hobbies for Chronic Illness/Pain
Adult Coloring Books
These have been around for a few years now. There are online versions for the iPad and other devices. There are coloring books large and small, intricate and easy, and coloring planners. They are great stress relievers and keep your mind occupied and focusing on something other than pain. Sometimes local libraries have events around this hobby, so check to see what’s happening in your area.
I have been doing this for probably 15 years or more, as we took up this hobby as a family when my kids were little, but it has exploded lately. I found out one of my best friends does this too, and local groups have popped up everywhere.
Rocks are easy canvases for painting. There are all kinds of ideas on Pinterest, Facebook groups to connect with, classes, and you are sure to find a local group that hides painted rocks for others to find and hide again, as part of a kindness rocks movement.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for Kindness.”
– Lucius Seneca
Gardening can be as simple as growing some herbs in a container on the window sill in your kitchen, to a few flower pots on the porch, to something more elaborate. Here are some tips for Gardening with Chronic Pain. And you can find classes at your local nurseries to find other people with common interests and perhaps learn something new.
Depending on the type of condition you have, you may or may not be able to use your hands for repetitive type motions like this. But there are easy ways to get started with: embroidery kits and crochet hooks for arthritis and easy cross-stitch patterns to search for on Pinterest.
Another hobby you can do easily at home with friends or family, online through an app, or at a local recreation center. Check your local rec centers for their calendar of events. My dad recently took up bridge again at his neighborhood clubhouse. Maybe you can host some neighbors for a night of bunco or bridge or even poker.
You can do anything from jigsaw puzzles to crossword puzzles. We used to always do jigsaw puzzles as a family to get everyone interacting over something (and keep the kids off the electronic devices). These days in my office at work we usually have one or two puzzles going in the break room, for people to take a couple minute break out of their day. These are great to keep your mind engaged.
Start a blog, keep a journal, write letters to friends, or take a creative writing class. There are a lot of ways here to develop social interactions and keep your mind active.
There are lots of free classes on sites like Coursera. I have taken everything from setting up a blog to creative writing to Cybersecurity classes on this site, with many through universities. Just because your body may not be as active as it once was doesn’t mean your mind has gone too.
Listening to Music
Listening to music has so many benefits, including helping you relax, reducing stress, improving your mood and your memory, and easing pain. We should all find a few minutes in our day to enjoy some soothing sounds!
While I used to read a lot more than I do now, I have had to adapt when I do read. Holding books is quite painful at times and my retention isn’t always there (thank you fibromyalgia and fibrofog), so I often read on my Kindle or iPad, read for shorter periods, or listen to books.
You can check out electronic or audio books from your library or buy/rent them from places like Amazon and Audible. And if listening to an entire book is too much for your brain fog to handle, check out Blinkist, which is like a cliff notes version of books. There are also tons of podcasts out there on every topic imaginable. I like to listen to books or podcasts in the car, especially on longer drives, to pass the time.
While this list isn’t comprehensive, I hope I have given you some new ideas for things to occupy your time, take your mind off your pain, and get some social interactions back into your life. Find something you are passionate about, and enjoy it!
What are your favorite hobbies? I would love to hear what you do to keep yourself busy and not think about the pain.
Just a little note from 202o – it’s been eight weeks in quarantine here in Texas, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I have found that I have used most of these hobbies listed to help me and my family pass the time at the house. We’ve been doing lots of puzzles, rock painting, gardening, cooking, movie watching, etc. What have you been doing to pass the time?