How to fit enjoyable activities into your day when you have a chronic illness

There are 168 hours each and every week. When you are chronically ill this can alternate between seeming like forever and not nearly enough time. When you aren’t well tasks can take longer to get done, especially when much of the time you may be stuck in bed or on the couch biding your time till there is a window of lesser symptoms. It can be easier to make time to get non-negotiable tasks done or tasks for someone else buy much harder to devote time to less urgent personal things.  Life with a chronic illness is so much better when you can include activities you enjoy so life is more than the “tasks of daily living”, TV, and the internet.

I came up with the idea of “Quarter to Me” which involves finding small windows in our 168 hour week to prioritise doing some enjoyable activities.  The simple act of using quarter hour blocks for doing something meaningful to you allows you to spend time doing activities that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

The following steps will help guide you through incorporating “Quarter to Me” into your life.
-Write a list of possible things you would like to do in these windows of time.
It might be meditate, read a book, journal, craft, or work on some sort of project. Then pick one or two ideas to start with.

-When it is time for “Quarter to Me” it is important you don’t spend the first five or more minutes trying to find what you need and clearing space to set up. For the ideas you have chosen, get things ready so you can sit straight down and get on with it.  You might have a list to refer to if it isn’t realistic to have things ready in one place.

-Make a list of time slots and cues for when you might fit in a Quarter to Me. Note down any activities you do now that you could swap sometimes for a Quarter to Me. For example, my list includes things like- just before lunch, 4pm, and in the evening instead of sitting in front of a TV show I don’t love, or instead of scrolling social media.

-Set a reminder alarm on your phone to help make sure you get around to your Quarter to Me sessions. And then if you need to put a clear end to the session set a timer on your phone, or a dedicated portable timer. It can be important to stop an activity after a set time so you don’t get too fatigued or have other symptoms flare from the activity for example if it uses your hands and they get sore easily. Work within the limits of your illness so you can build a habit of Quarter to Me that works for you.

-Keep track of when you have successfully had a Quarter to Me session and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #quartertome

-Make it count. This is such a big one. Think about how many Quarter to Me’s you might fit in a week and plan what you might achieve if you make conscious choices in this time. It can be so easy to spread ourselves too thin and work a tiny bit on quite a few things. These sessions are about doing some things you choose, things that will give you an emotional boost. It isn’t all about productivity and big goals.

-Let the people you live with know what you are planning if you think it will help keep them interrupting your precious quarter of an hour.

The 15 minute blocks can add up to a significant amount of time if you make “Quarter to Me” an important part of your life when you have a chronic illness.  Please comment if you find this concept helpful and let me know some of the enjoyable activities you are going to use your “Quarter to Me” for.

4 Replies to “How to fit enjoyable activities into your day when you have a chronic illness”

    1. Hi Amy,
      It can be really hard to get anything extra to fit. Maybe narrowing down to create tiny steps could help you chip away at something you’ve been wanting to do. You could also start making a plan of tiny steps you will be able to start when you are off work. Thanks for coming over from Instagram to read this article :-). If you know anyone who would find it useful, i’d love if you shared my site with them. xx

  1. Hi Claire, I already do a version of this, but like the idea of committing to some regular spots in the day which are specifically for this so will give this a go over the next few weeks. Em.

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