So often when we are unwell or have not been able to do our usual activities for a while, we get stuck with this idea that we can’t do things anymore. So, inevitably we don’t. Then, the impact of not doing things we enjoy becomes too apparent – we feel sad, or a real sense of loss – or even angry or depressed. NOT doing things then can make us feel physically worse, too, as they overall level of activity goes down – muscles get weaker, we become less fit, more stiff and we withdraw from people a bit more.
It might be different for different people, but might sound like “if I can’t do that, there’s no point”, or “I can’t do that, so I won’t go,” or it might be packing away something that you used to love like the bits and pieces associated with a hobby. But is it really true that you can’t do it? Sure, you might need to think about doing it differently, or planning the activity so that it works better for you, but is it true that you can’t do it AT ALL?
Here’s something to consider doing:
1) Write a list of all of the things you’ve stopped doing since becoming unwell or injured*
2) Add to this list the things you used to enjoy doing
3) Then add the things that you think you might like to do, or things you’ve always wanted to do
4) Ignore your head when it says “that’s all very well, but I can’t do that!”
5) Now go through your list and ask yourself – what CAN I do? Maybe you can’t go to the full wedding, meal and dance afterwards but you can go to the part you’d enjoy most, see a few people and then leave? Maybe you can do an online learning course, at your own pace instead of a course where you have to go in and attend regularly after a long journey? Maybe you can pick up your camera again and visit some places you find inspiring or peaceful?
6) Ask yourself HOW can I do it? This describes the steps you might need to take to make sure that your plan really works for you, and it might involve extending the journey, taking rest breaks or thinking about where you could get some quiet time, splitting the activity up into smaller chunks, for example, or having a strategy to make you leave when you said you would (recruiting friends to help can also make a difference).
7) Notice what new options and possibilities open up for you
Keep your list somewhere visually and handy, so it becomes a living, breathing ideas bank of things you can do.
9) And now the important bit: do them
* If this makes you feel sad, then make sure you move on to the next step, or talk to your therapist about how to move on.