Enjoying Nature when you’re Housebound with Chronic Illness

herb garden

Living with a chronic illness like ME/CFS often means that you are housebound and unable to enjoy the outdoor activities you once loved. You might be like me, love nature and going exploring, but your condition has left you stranded in your home.

Although there is no magic cure to get you out and about, there are a few things I have done to help me enjoy nature while I remain indoors. There is a calm and peace that comes from being around trees and plants. Lets see how you might bring some of that nature indoors.

Indoor Plants

This might seem like an obvious answer and perhaps it is, but I’ve been housebound for over 2 years and only recently acquired some plants. You won’t believe the huge difference it makes to have a bit of greenery in sight!

In the living room I have a lovely selection of orchids, mini roses and another plant I can’t identify. They currently live on the windowsill as I don’t yet have cabinets in the living room. Since my living room looks out onto a street, it is a lovely addition to have some blooms in plain view. A colourful little windowsill garden!

In the kitchen I have a selection of herbs. Currently there is Thyme, Coriander (Cilantro) and Chives. These require more water than the other plants, they droop easily, but will perk back up overnight if watered. They provide great nutrients and flavour to our meals and they look and smell lovely too.

Some of these herbs are very sensitive to heat and direct sunlight, so you might have to find a spot away from the window for the more sensitive ones like parsley, mint and coriander which tend to enjoy shady areas.

Another great option is a selection of miniature cacti. They do not require much attention and they are small enough to fit even in the cosiest of homes.

Wallpaper and Screensavers

Another way I get to enjoy the world from the comfort of my sofa or bed while completely housebound, is by setting up some beautiful images as my computer and phone wallpapers and screensavers. I use photos I have found online, photos that take my breath away. There are plenty of photographers out there sharing their work online.

As long as you never share or sell their images, you’re not breaking any laws by setting them as your wallpaper.

Remember that with a chronic illness like ME/CFS you might experience light sensitivity, so you might also want to ensure you dim your screens or install a blue light filter app. You might also want to not select images that are too white or bright. It really helps to relieve the strain and pain caused by light sensitivity.

Social Media Collections

Everybody knows about Pinterest and what a great way it is to save images of just about anything you can think of into little collections which you can organise and name as you please. It’s basically an online photo album or other people’s photos and articles which you can visit and scroll through whenever you want to.

Personally, I find it quite confusing and a bit untidy. I’m definitely more of an Instagram person myself.

If you haven’t been on Instagram recently, apart from missing out on a huge, supportive community of chronically ill people sharing their struggles and their victories, you might not know that they now have a “Collections” function where you can save other people’s posts!

You get to create a collection, name it, and whenever you come across a post you love, you can save it in the appropriate collection. You can also scroll through a collection as if it’s a continuous feed.

I’ve used this function for all sorts, but I have a few favourite collections: quotes, flowers and scenery. I love to just scroll through the absolutely gorgeous photos of mountains, forests, fields of flowers and crystal clear waters. All the breathtaking beauty without any of the nasty payback.

People can also post videos now, so you can watch hummingbirds up close, or deer playing in a stream… It’s quite a joyful experience!

Arts and Crafts

Another great way to incorporate nature into your home is to paint, draw or just buy some art. You could collect dried flowers, leaves, seed pods and twigs and make arrangements, you could use watercolour or acrylics to paint landscapes or florals, or you could doodle some whimsical gardens with your favourite markers.

If you’re not very confident in your own art, you could use a colouring book, there are a great variety of colouring books for adults available now and many have gorgeous nature scenes, both realistic and fantastical. You could use markers, watercolours or coloured pencils to colour these designs, frame them or use them to cover notebooks, line containers or anything else you can imagine.

If you’re not keen on colouring either, you can buy some pretty floral wrapping paper or scrap book pages and use them to create eye-catching bursts of colour around your home.

Pot Gardening

Of course if you’re a bit more active and mobile, you could create a pot garden. It’s a little easier to manage than planting and weeding out in the garden, and you can do it while seated at a table too. You simply plant your herbs, flowers and shrubs in pots of whatever size and shape you like. It eliminates much of the bending and digging, so is much lighter on the body physically.

You could plant a butterfly garden, a pollinators garden, you could even plant a kitchen garden! Many fruit and vegetables grow quite well in pots. Then have somebody position them where you will have a good view of them even on days you cannot go out.

Being housebound for over 2 years now, I know I am super happy to be able to look out of my windows and see tree tops and tall hedges. And for the bursts of colour I now have my lovely pot plants on the windowsill indoors.

Pets

Somebody reminded me today of one of the most rewarding ways to bring nature into your home: pets!

When you’re housebound with a chronic illness, your’re often isolated from other people, having a pet or two can help fill the void and it is also an excellent anti-stress. Simply watching the little creatures play is fun and relaxing.

Some obvious options that provide excellent companionship are dogs and cats, but I’ve seen many people with chronic illness also get lots of love and cuddles from lizards, birds, rats and even flying squirrels!

For those allergic to all things furry and feathery, there is the super peaceful fish tank. Nothing more relaxing than the bubbling water and the swaying aquatic plants as the colourful little fish hypnotically swim to and fro.

Bloom where you are planted

Chronic illness doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You can create pockets of joy and sunshine amongst the pain and the rubble. Whatever your activity levels are now, there is always something you can do to bring some joy to your day. I hope these tips have sparked some creative ideas in you and you get to enjoy nature from wherever you are planted.

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