ME Friendly Activities
Different activities appeal to different people- it is important to find something that you enjoy and feel you have achieved something at the end, no matter how short a time you can concentrate for.
Crafts are a great way to fill your time. There are wide ranges of different crafts available from good
mail order suppliers. Even if you only have a small amount of mobility in your hands and have to do it lying down you should be able to find something that you will enjoy, with the extra benefit of something solid to show for your time and energy at the end e.g. a card or craft which you can keep yourself or send to a friend
You can go online for tutorials, or look for craft kits that provide all the materials.
You can make a basic card by folding a small piece of coloured card or alternatively buying pre-folded cards from craft shops. This you can decorate in a number of ways: -
The only limit is your imagination.
These are plastic beads which when placed on a special board can be used to create different patterns and pictures. Get a parent or carer to place a sheet of greaseproof paper on the top and iron the design, causing the beads to melt slightly and stick together. Once cool you have a hard plastic picture or shape, which can be used as a drinks mat.
These can take a bit of concentration and can be quite fiddly; but if you have the energy they are well worth having a go at. They are available from: -
This is a fun and very rewarding hobby. It can be broken down into stages of just one bead a day. It is advisable to start on a small project at first, for example earrings, as they give you quick results. You will need to buy some basic supplies to begin with or alternatively there are kits available which supply everything that you need to make earrings, necklaces and bracelets. All you will need to buy in addition is a pair of pliers and wire cutters.
If you can only do a couple of beads at once, put blue tac on both ends of the wire or earring pins to stop the beads from falling off.
For craft ideas try a craft magazine or Google craft tutorials.
Drawing and Painting
Drawing and painting can be very therapeutic no matter what your artistic ability. Try experimenting with different mediums e.g. pencils, wax crayons, charcoal, pastels, oil pastels, chalks or watercolour pencils. It is advisable to have a damp cloth or bowl of water close by so you can wash your hands. If you don’t feel up to drawing something yourself, then there are lots of good picture books available, that you can colour in.
If you enjoy painting there are now lots of kits available. These cover everything from painting by numbers to glass and ceramic painting. Alternatively get your carer to check out a local toy store or craft shop for easy to complete activities.
You can get lots of kits now to grow different plants and flowers, available from garden centres. These can b easy and fun to do.
A darkened room is good for growing bulbs e.g. hyacinths and crocuses. Alternatively if the plant needs light to grow, get your carer to take it somewhere else and keep bringing it back for you to see. Be careful not to grow anything scented if you are sensitive to smell.
If you are not very green fingered then have pre-grown plants instead, as they are easier to keep alive than seeds.
Electric propagators are good if you want to grow exotic plants or any seeds even in winter. You may need someone willing to water them and put soil in pots for you though.
There are lots of downloadable e-books you can put onto an e-reader or go old school with an actual book! Often libraries will deliver books to house bound residents and they normally don’t have late return fees. You can also appoint somebody to take books out from the library for you, for example a carer or friend.
Listening to Audio Books and Music
Listening to things can take a lot of energy, but if you use an Mp3 player or iPad it is something you can do on your own. You may only be able to listen to a few seconds at a time; but if you are alone e.g. awake at night, it can act as a distraction- almost like having company. You can listen to a bit at a time, when you feel up to it. As you get better you will be able to increase the amount that you are able to listen to.
Audio books are available from the library and are free of charge if you are bed bound. You can borrow them for three weeks and then renew them up to three times, thus giving you a total of nine weeks to listen to the tape. You can order specific tapes using the library’s computer, get an assistant to show your carer how to do it.
You can now even download audio books straight to your iPad or computer - either for free from the library or from sites like Audible.
Once you have exhausted their range why not try Calibre Cassette Library. It is a charity, which has been set up for people who have difficulty reading and is completely free to members. To join you will need to get a medical professional to fill out a form, to confirm your disability e.g. Doctor or Occupational Therapist. www.calibre.org.uk/
Podcasts are a great way to listen to a wide variety of things, including audio books, reviews and fan information about your favourite television programme or film and the best bits from your favourite radio shows. You can also get podcasts which teach you new languages or take you on virtual tours of museums. Visit www.apple.com
You may find that you have a problem listening to things read aloud; but can cope when it’s recorded on a tape, as you can listen to it as and when you feel up to it. Get your carer to record articles, letter and stories onto a tape for you to listen to. They may feel embarrassed at first doing it; but this will wear off.
Get family and friends to look out for funny stories or anecdotes, in magazines and newspapers - Reader’s Digest is particularly good for this.
Listening to music can also be quite difficult, especially with the beat of the bass, which can cause your head to ache; but if you want to try to listen to a little, you may find it easier if it is played in another room at a level that you are just able to hear. You can even put an earplug in one ear and lay your head against a pillow to muffle the sound. You can then listen to as much as you feel able and then either ask someone to turn it off or put your other earplug in to block out the noise.
Some people find that relaxation music is pleasant to listen to and they can cope with it better than more modern pop music.
You will have to experiment to see whether you find it easier to listen to something over speakers or alternatively over earphones- earphones mean that the amount of stimuli your brain receives from external sources is reduced. If you find that you can’t cope with noise in both ears, then just use one earphone. Try to get a set of earphones with a volume switch on them, as these give you greater control over the volume. A good set is MDR-E829V by Sony, available from Argos.
If you are using a stereo/tape recorder you may find that the whirring and clunking of the mechanism is too loud. Walkmans can be placed under a pillow and you can place a pillow or towel over the top/front of stereos, to cut down on the noise. Be careful not to cover the air vent on the stereo, as this will cause it to overheat and can be dangerous.
Watching television is a very popular activity and can be very addictive, as it is a way to escape reality. Unfortunately it is one of the most exhausting activities because it stimulates the eyes, ears and brain all at once; therefore it uses up a lot of energy.
You need to be aware of how much television you physically can cope with watching, before you feel tired. It may be an idea to set a timer so that you don’t exceed your limit.
It is particularly important to alternate activities when watching TV. After watching it, have a rest and then do something that uses a different part of the brain e.g. making something. Find what works best for you. Watching things on DVD is a good idea because you can stop and start whenever you need to.
Sites like Lovefilm and Netflix provide a great way to access films and even download straight to your TV.
Record programmes off the television and watch at a time and pace that suits you best.
You can also rent DVDs from some libraries for a week at a time.
If you are too ill to watch TV, but are missing your favourite programmes, it is possible to record the sound from the programme onto an audiotape or minidisk. All you need is a tape recorder/ minidisk player and a Jack Plug-to-Plug lead. You plug one end of the lead into the headphone output in the TV, with the other end into the input or microphone socket on the tape recorder or minidisk player. You then play the video with the TV on and start recording on the tape recorder/minidisk. You can then listen to it at your own pace. It’s advisable to listen to something you know quite well to start with because you can visualise what’s going on. It’s possible to get scripts down off the internet for some of the American shows, e.g. Buffy, Charmed and Friends. If you can’t do this yourself why not ask a sibling, friend or carer to do it for you.
If you have been unable to watch TV for a while then the only way you are going to know if you are ready to watch it again is by trying. You will soon know if it is too much for you. Don’t try watching a whole programme to begin with – just look at the screen for a second and turn it straight off again. If you feel up to it, try again in a day or two’s time. This glimpse may be all you can cope with for weeks or months; but slowly you will be able to increase the amount you can watch. Don’t try and force it because it will only make you ill and therefore it will be even longer until you can watch it.
Cooking can be a fun activity, which produces delicious results that all the family can enjoy! You can even do some cooking from your bed. The simplest are crispie cakes. Get a sibling or carer to melt a bowl of chocolate in the microwave and bring it to you to add the rice crispies or cornflakes. Spoon the cakes into bun cases and leave to cool. Then ENJOY!
Remember the chocolate and bowl will be hot so be careful and always make sure there is someone around to help, especially if you get tired and need somebody to take over.
There are also some great cake mixes that come with most of the ingredients ready prepared. All you need to add is an egg or some water and then you can bake the cakes or biscuits. Cake mixes are available from most supermarkets. Some good ranges are Cadburys, Jane Asher and Greens. They do a wide variety of cakes from caramel shortbread, to chocolate chip muffins and lemon drizzle cakes.
Alternatively look for an easy cookbook, possibly one meant for children. Get someone to measure out the ingredients and you can mix them. It’s advisable to use a tray table so you have a firm surface to work on.
To become more involved with daily life why not help plan meals, especially if you can only eat certain things. You can even help prepare some of the vegetables.
Playing games of all types can be a fun way to spend some time. Most games can be played in stages and left part way through, so are ideal for people with low energy.
Travel games are great because they are small and often magnetic, so can be easily moved around the room.
Here are some games to try:-
Cards can be held with large card holders if gripping is a problem.
It’s worth investing in a book of games; you will find many games that you have never heard of before. Two good books are
I find them a bit addictive. Get a jigsaw board which you can use on a table or even in bed. You can then fold it up and put it away if space is an issue.
Using the Computer
Using a computer/laptop/smart phone/notebook can be great fun and is a good way to communicate with the outside world via social media. The only downside is that it can be very tiring because it uses so many senses and it is very tempting to do more than you ought to! A timer is a very good idea!
If you can’t use the computer why not get a friend or carer to go on for you.
Internet shopping is also a good way to buy things without leaving the house. Most shops have their own sites so get your carer to look out for details.
E-cards are a great way of keeping in touch with people. There is a wide variety and many are free to send.
Distance Learning Courses – there are lots of courses online, with flexible hours and they can be done as and when you feel like it.
Remember the most important factor about activities is that they are fun and that you can enjoy doing them without wearing yourself out.
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