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Summer is the time for having fun, going on adventures and relaxation. But sadly, you cannot take a vacation from your own body and mind. So when you’re living with chronic illness, the FOMO is real when you see your friends sipping mojitos by the pool or sightseeing picturesque villages on social media while you are stuck at home as usual.
But just because your health problems stop you from joining in on all the fun, that doesn’t mean you can have any fun.
What do you love most about summer? Which activities, sensations and memorable moments do you want to experience?
First, take a close look at the things you’d love to do most to see if there’s any way you could make it happen with some serious planning and pacing. Can’t see how to make it work health-wise? Then try if you can modify your plans to make that activity accessible, like having a champagne brunch instead of going out for cocktails at night, or camping out in the backyard instead of in the wild.
If there’s no way to make your beloved activity doable for you, ask yourself what it is about that beach day, 4th of July barbecue or exotic holiday that you’re longing for. Are you in desperate need of some real R&R, do you want a sense of excitement in your life or are you craving social connection?
Perhaps you can fulfill that underlying desire in a different way. You may not be able to travel to Paris, but you could still have some pain au chocolat and immerse yourself into French culture from the comfort of your home. And you don’t have to visit a luxurious resort to embrace slow living with time for siestas, pampering and a good book.
Even small rituals like eating watermelon, walking barefoot and enjoying long evenings outside can give that summer feeling you’re looking for. You just have to be intentional about creating those amazing summer experiences.
What your summer activities may look like depends a lot on your health and living situation, from your energy levels and mobility to whether or not you have housemates or an outdoor area. When you’re so sick you can barely leave your bed, there’s little to no room for uncomplicated fun. That’s why not every tip will work for everyone. This list is simply meant to inspire you and see how you can make things work for your unique circumstances.
With that in mind, here are 55 spoonie-proof ideas for an amazing summer, even if you’re stuck at home with chronic illness.
Set the Scene
The downside of staying at home is that you tend to go about business as usual, with all the chores that go along with that. One way to make your staycation feel like a true vacation is to prep like you would for a holiday abroad.
- 1. Put a big cross on your calendar to mark your days off, do your laundry ahead of time and stock your fridge with your favorite foods.
- 2. For that relaxing resort feel, splurge on services if possible. Have your groceries delivered, order take-out or hire someone to help you clean and babysit.
- 3. Wear flip-flops and sunglasses and all day long, even if you’re staying at home. You get bonus points for cute sun hats, bohemian dresses or tropical prints!
- 4. Turn your patio, rooftop terrace or garden into an outdoor oasis. Hang a hammock and a string of lights, or set up a cute sun chair where you can sip tropical drinks with umbrellas.
- 5. No outdoor area? Create a cozy and comfortable spot by the (open) window and see if you can bring some natural elements inside, like plants, succulents or a floral garland.
- 6. Unplug for a day – or more. Instead of losing track of time by browsing online and scrolling through social media, grab a paper book or take up your favorite hobby. Check out these 120 low-energy entertaining things you can do when you’re bored and sick at home for more inspiration.
- 7. Liven up your living space or bedroom with simple seasonal decorations, like sea shells, a bouquet of wildflowers, a lantern or DIY potpourri of herbs and flowers.
- 8. What would you buy if you’d be on a road trip, at the airport or by the pool? For your staycation, treat yourself to the hottest summer reads, a crossword or sudoku puzzle book, an inflatable family lounge pool or popsicle molds, whatever makes your summer at home amazing.
Create Summertime Vibes
What exactly makes you feel like it’s summertime? Is it having fun, a sense of adventure or real relaxation? Let’s think out-of-the-box to see if you could squeeze some of those sensations, activities and memorable moments into your summer, albeit in a modified way.
- 9. Have a ‘festival’ at home. Create the ultimate summer playlist or stream old concerts from your best-loved artists, while you kick back with a root beer and a healthified version of your favorite fast food.
- 10. Swap your regular cup of jo for a healthy iced coffee. If you’re a true coffee connoisseur, you could even learn to make cold brew coffee.
- 11. Dive into light summer reads for a mental escape. If you need some inspiration for your ‘to be read’ pile, check out ‘One Italian Summer‘ by Rebecca Serle, ‘People We Meet On Vacation’ by Emily Henry or ‘The Paris Apartment’ by Lucy Foley.
- 12. Release your inner kid with low-energy lawn games like backyard bocce or a giant pong game.
- 13. Celebrate Midsummer’s Night with flowers in your hair, fresh foods, good music and meaningful rituals. You could go Scandinavian with smørrebrød, potato salads and summer berry cakes, or just use whatever’s in season in your part of the world.
- 14. Get that holiday feeling by sending postcards to your friends and family. You could even search for a summer pen pal to exchange letters with.
- 15. Play flashlight tag.
- 16. Beautify your bare feet with colorful nail polish and a DIY beach-inspired anklet.
- 17. Create your own signature ‘mocktail’, from a sober sangria to a non-alcoholic piña colada.
- 18. Host a backyard movie night. Rent a portable projector, bring out the inflatable mattress or floor cushions, and make some healthy movie night snacks for a fun evening.
- 19. Keep cool on a warm day with homemade ice tea. PlumDeluxe offers a great selection of hand-picked iced tea blends, including a glass pitcher perfect for both cold brewing and sun brewing.
- 20. Revisit your childhood with a 2-minute hula hoop workout, or bounce on a mini trampoline if you have one.
- 21. Learn to play a new song on your guitar.
- 22. Have a tiny dance party – even if it’s just tapping your feet to upbeat music or ‘seated dancing’ as I like to call it. Of course, you could go all out with a hot outfit, glow sticks and new moves from YouTube if you’re up for it.
- 23. Love gelato? With an ice cream maker, you can whip up your favorite (n)ice cream or healthy frozen yoghurt in no time.
- 24. Try out new hairstyles perfect for hot summer days, whether that’s beach waves, loose braids or topknots.
- 25. Enjoy the short stone fruit season with sweet and savory peach, cherry and plum recipes for any time of day. Who doesn’t love a fruity cobbler for dessert?
Are you lucky to have an outdoor area? No matter if you have access to a luscious garden, urban patio or small balcony, a change of scenery and catching natural daylight, fresh air and vitamin D-producing sunshine can do wonders for your body and mind. Here’s how heading outside can add to an amazing summer at home:
- 26. Move your resting outdoors. Set up a daybed in the garden or chill on a comfy outdoor cushion on the balcony.
- 27. Have a simple picnic in the garden – or even on the living room floor if that works for you. There’s just something so cozy about lounging around with a variety of foods you can eat with your hands.
- 28. Beat the heat with a water balloon fight or an old-skool run through the sprinklers.
- 29. Too hot during the day? Head outside late in the evening and look up at the stars. You could even try to identify different constellations with an app like SkyView, or catch fireflies.
- 30. Gather around a fire pit, make a bonfire (safely) and have s’mores.
- 31. Watch the fireworks on Independence Day in the US, Bastille Day in France or your country’s national holiday. You could even do this from your bedroom if you’re stuck in bed.
- 32. Take your cooking outside, if you’re physically able of course. Throw your favorite burger or foil packet on the barbecue, grill colorful veggies and make healthy campfire banana boats.
- 33. Struggling to sleep? Admire the moon in all its phases or go all-out with a full moon ritual to get in touch with the natural rhythms and yourself.
- 34. Roll out your yoga mat in the garden so you can do some gentle stretching outside.
- 35. Can’t go the beach or pool? Then bring these summer experiences to you. Scrub your skin to recreate the feeling of sand between your toes and put your bathing suit on. Lay down on a beautiful beach towel and rub sunscreen lotion on – the smell alone will immediately take you back to the seaside. Finally, treat yourself to some salty fries or a healthy popsicle to complete the picture.
- 36. Grab your sleeping bag and thermos to camp out under the starry sky, with all the facilities you need to function close by.
- 37. Make the most of the long evenings by spending time outside. Have dinner al fresco, play card games on the patio, listen to audiobooks in your hammock or catch up with your friends – virtually, in real life or on the phone.
- 38. Are you stuck indoors? See if you enjoy bird watching from your window. Depending on where you live, you could also look for other wildlife, like different kinds of butterflies, lizards and squirrels.
Explore the World
Who says you have to travel far away to explore the world? You can still immerse yourself in a different culture from the comfort of your own home by eating its cuisine, watching subtitled movies or reading books about that country. And let’s not forget learning more about the world right outside your doorstep by seeing it with new eyes.
- 39. Even if you’re stuck at home, reading can take you all around the world. Go on an armchair journey with Eat, Pray, Love and Wild, feed your wanderlust with travel memoirs from Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, or have a vicarious adventure with a choose-your-own-ending book.
- 40. Learn a few words and phrases of a foreign language. Apps like DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone can help you pick up the basics of French, German or Japanese through fun activities.
- 41. Experiment with new cuisines. Make your own sushi and healthy spring rolls, or go on a culinary adventure with Spanish paella, Korean bibimbap or a Cuban-inspired salmon bowl.
- 42. Have a travel theme day. You may not be able to visit Italy in real life this Summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little Italy – or any country of your choosing – to your home! Start your day with a cappuccino in the sun, enjoy a caprese salad for lunch and have a thin-crusted pizza or risotto funghi for dinner. Listen to Pavorotti’s classics, Laura Pausini’s ballads or Eurovision’s Måneskin, while you’re getting creative like Leonardo Da Vinci. Pick up a few Italian words, read an thrilling novel about the Roman Empire and take a virtual tour across Florence. At night, you can watch Gladiator, the touching La Vita e Bella or Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons.
- 43. Shake up your TV routines. Instead of watching your usual series and shows, (live) stream a ballet, theatre play or Broadway musical. Swap your romcom for a fascinating documentary or put on some stand-up comedy if you tend to watch dark movies.
- 44. Did you know you can virtually visit the Egyptian mummies in the British Museum, get a peek of the impressionists masterpieces at Musée d’Orsay and tour the Anne Frank house? Sure, it’s not the same as seeing it in real life, but a virtual museum tour will surely keep your mind distracted for a while.
- 45. Create a travel inspiration vision board of all the places you’d love to visit in the future (unless that gives you sadness and FOMO of course).
- 46. Broaden your musical horizon. Put on a new radio station for the day, have your friends recommend one song or artist you have to listen to or explore a different genre than you usually listen to, from Latin music to K-pop or Arabic songs.
- 47. Mentally travel by train through a game of Ticket to Ride.
These endless summer days are the perfect invitation for slowing down and making time for real rest. And not just chilling on a lounge chair – although that sure is a great way to start – but really activating your body’s natural relaxation response. See how you can relax your muscles, slow your breathing and heart rate and calm your racing mind this summer:
- 48. Start your day on a calm note with a series of sun salutations or a 5-minute meditation.
- 49. Get your daily nature fix – even if you’re stuck at home. Research repeatedly shows how being in natural surroundings supports your physical, emotional and mental health. Even looking at something green reduces anxiety and pain levels, so adorn your home with plants, hang nature photography where you can see it throughout the day and get your hands dirty in the soil whenever you can.
- 50. Stuck in bed or on the couch today? Use the power of your imagination to visualize relaxing scenarios, like walking on the beach. Studies show that visualization can help reduce stress, relax your muscles, and promote better sleep. If you struggle to create a vivid picture, let the patented Flowly app take you through calming Virtual Realities to relax your body and mind.
- 51. Let go of tension in your body with simple self-massage techniques. Give yourself a soothing foot rub by making circling motions with your thumb, work out the knots in tight shoulders with a little help from a tennis ball or use a small self-massage tool.
- 52. This summer, do one routine task mindfully. Instead of thoughtlessly doing the dishes or drinking coffee, pay attention to how the movements and sensations really feel, how you’re standing or sitting, which flavors you can distinguish. Mindfulness practices like this can lower your stress levels and improve your emotional and cognitive functioning.
- 53. Turn your bathroom into a relaxing spa by infusing your soothing summer bath with herbs. Lavender and chamomile are both known to relax your body and improve your sleep.
- 54. Daydream. Remember how, as a child, you used to lay down in the grass and just watch the clouds roll by? Your mind needs quiet time to digest all the information and sensations we’re bombarded with every day. So resistive urge to grab your phone during those pockets of unscheduled time and let your mind wander for a while.
- 55. Give your bedtime routine a (seasonal) makeover to help you wind down at night. Daily activities like gentle yoga, journaling or sipping herbal tea don’t just quiet your mind and release tension from your muscles, but they also signal to your brain it’s time to get ready for a good night’s sleep.
Let’s make this list even longer: What do you do to have an amazing summer, even if you’re stuck at home with chronic illness?
For more in-depth advice on living a good life with chronic illness, sign up for your weekly health sessions now. You’ll also receive the free ‘Bored & Sick Guide’ with 120 low-energy activities you can do at home when you’re bored and sick.