When I was 24, I had a cadaveric heart transplant. This puts me in the unique position of not only having faced a life-threatening illness but of having also spent three months unable to leave a small hospital room. I know how maddening it can be to face these things, and I thought I would offer you some unsolicited advice about how to handle this type of situation.
Establish a daily routine
When you are stuck indoors and have nothing to do, it is easy to fall into a slump wherein you sit around in your pajamas all day binge-watching trash TV. While this can be diverting for a week or two, eventually, it gets old. Then it gets annoying. Then it gets maddening. Establish a daily routine to give structure to your day. Get up and go to bed at a certain time. Get dressed even if you’re not going anywhere. Have certain things that you do every day regardless of whether or not you want to do them. This will help keep you sane.
As part of your daily routine, I recommend getting some much-needed exercise. This could be as simple as taking a walk once after breakfast, lunch or dinner. Personally, I do burpees three times per day and take two walks—which is also a relief for Fido.
I know it sounds corny, but establishing a daily meditation practice has been shown to have all kinds of positive physical and psychological effects. Improved concentration, lowered cortisol levels—cortisol is the hormone that causes stress—lowered resting heart rate and general feelings of well-being are all shown to occur with a daily practice.
Don’t binge-watch too much
I can’t tell you how many shows I got halfway through and then gave up on when I was in the hospital. Keeping some anticipation in your day can really help you get through it all. A little is fine, but if you find yourself getting bored, it’s definitely time to stop, and it’s a good idea to stop while you are still wondering what’s going to happen next.
Try to get five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It’s hard to eat potato chips if you’ve filled up on oranges and salad.
Establish a support network with friends, family and other loved ones. We are all in this together; remember that!
Graduate student instructor in the English and Creative Writing Department