Low energy activities I could do with my support workers?
September 13, 2021 4:21 AM   Subscribe

I have two in-person 2 hour sessions with a rota of support workers from a mental health charity each week. If for some reason the session can't happen (like this week I am self-isolating with mild Delta Covid) I get phone calls instead. Initially I used one session to get my apartment tidy and the other to go out for coffee and chat, but we seem on top of tidying. What else could we do that would be therapeutic but work around me being low energy?

For context I get these sessions due to needs caused by my bipolar and social isolation/ social anxiety. I have low energy due to obesity/ type 2 diabetes/ persistent low mood.

Enjoying a coffee and an in-person chat is one of my very favourite things to do, since nearly all my friends are online ones far away that I would struggle to visit. It was especially nice in the summer sitting at outdoor cafe tables and chatting and peoplewatching. I just wonder if there is something else we could do in 1 hour 45 minutes (the last 15 are used for them to create notes). Could be in my apartment or outdoors but it's good for me to get out and about, I don't tend to do that on my own. Since I am so isolated "in real life" the sessions are very valuable for me but I guess at the back of my mind I am also thinking how to get best value for money, since each session I pay a contribution of £20 (roughly $25?) for.
posted by AuroraSky to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: When I am stressed and low-energy, I find that meal planning and buying food (something I usually enjoy) is something that becomes a major chore- it might be fun to do that with someone else? Maybe they can help brainstorm ideas and you can chit-chat about food which is something that can be surprisingly interesting even with people from the same culture as you- learning about what they eat now vs. what they grew up with, how they cook certain things, etc. is sort of interesting in the same way people-watching is! And then at the end of it you've got a meal plan or some ideas of what to buy or cook for the next few days so you've got something tangible out of it for your financial contribution.
posted by cilantro at 4:47 AM on September 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: How about bird watching? Get yourself a little book/guide, wrap up warm if it’s getting colder, and sit in a local park, or even just a little green patch of waste land with trees. I’ve had low energy from long covid for a while and I’ve paid so much more attention to the natural world close to my home, and it’s been great. I note in my phone when I first see certain birds as the seasons change, I’ve learned to recognise some common birds I’d never noticed before (who knew that all the little grey ones weren’t sparrows? Hello, dunnocks!). I’ve learned what a blackbird sounds like and how they’re often the last birds you hear singing in the evening because they have better night vision.

I see enough to keep me interested just on the tree-lined waste ground across the road from me so it doesn’t necessarily need a bird reserve. I’ve lived here for years and never really paid attention, but once I started paying attention during lockdown last year, it became more interesting than I had anticipated. I’d honestly never noticed that they’re super-noisy in spring, but quiet down later in the year! There’s so much I’ve picked up just by paying attention over time and googling things occasionally.

Most of the time I just see the same old birds but I enjoy watching them, and every now and then there’s a more interesting visitor or some new behaviour I’ve not seen before.

You can also take a flask of hot drinks and a little snack, which taste so good in the open air.

And you can chat with other people online about what you see if you want. For me, that’s just the occasional tweet exchange with birdy people in my city, but I’m sure there’s a whole world you could really lean into if so-inclined.

So, for your money, you get some time outside, a version of coffee and chat, a connection with the natural world, and a new field of knowledge to dip your toe into, which is always good for the soul.

In a similar vein, if you have the energy to walk short distances in slightly less-kempt green spaces, you can get yourself an app that identifies plants when you photograph them. All those things we think are “weeds”? They’re all plants with names and life cycles and interesting properties, and often funny colloquial names. You can note their names and read up on them when you get home. Similarly to birds, if you visit the same space over a period of time, you’ll see them change throughout the year and eventually wonder how you ever walked past all these things without paying them any mind.
posted by penguin pie at 4:54 AM on September 13, 2021 [6 favorites]

If you have energy for tidying, perhaps you could do some simple cooking. Making a soup or stew with someone else could be fun. You could sit to chop vegetables. Depending on what you can eat, you could also make a quick bread or a simple dessert or maybe a fruit salad. In addition to an enjoyable time, you could end up with a few meals for later. I’ve cooked with other people before, and it seems much less like a chore.
posted by FencingGal at 5:18 AM on September 13, 2021

Best answer: I feel like I always have a list of tasks I need to do but that aren't super time sensitive and also that I hate to do so I just put them off indefinitely. Could you put together a list like this and have the support person basically talk you through doing it?

I know this doesn't sound like fun exactly, but for me, most of these tasks are relatively low energy - i.e. send my doctor a message about X, go online and do some banking related stuff, contact the landlord about some maintenance stuff, etc. Even if it's phone calls, you could either use a different phone to make the call or maybe just briefly hang up from your phone session and then call them back?

I find once I finally do these tasks, especially if I can force myself to just rip off the bandaid and get a bunch of these things crossed off my list, it feels like such a relief! Even better to have someone else there who can also give you positive reinforcement for doing these things.

It's easy to not even realize how much mental space these things are taking up until you actually do them. And I find accountability and having someone to hold my hand (metaphorically) through the process of getting this stuff done is really helpful.

Meal planning is also a great idea.

Another option would be maybe they could do some guided meditations with you? Even if they don't have any specific mindfulness/meditation training, there are often guided mindfulness/meditations (like progressive muscle relaxation or body scans or whatever) that have a script someone can just read for you. I mean, you can also usually find them on youtube, but I think it could be nice having someone whose voice is familiar reading them. I think this might give you both a chance to do something that will help your mental health while also allowing you to feel connected to someone else.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:22 AM on September 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Go for a walk. Yes, you have low energy, but even a short walk outdoors is really beneficial for depression, low energy. If you can go to a park or some place with lots of trees, birds, squirrels, and other critters, even better (I have a similar experience and walking in sunshine and nature is really good). I hope you are safe from Covid, and have a good experience.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 AM on September 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

If I'm reading this correctly and you're isolating because you're contagious with Covid, I think it would be better to avoid going for a walk- I know the risk of transmission may be low, but it's still hard to completely avoid people, at least where I live, and the risk to others isn't zero, even if you're masked. If you have a private backyard, that's different. If you're in the UK (?) self isolation means staying at home/not going for walks, as far as I can tell.

Could you take the next step on tidying, like totally organizing a closet or your kitchen drawers or something? YMMV, but I find that very satisfying...
posted by pinochiette at 8:11 AM on September 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all these good suggestions. Just to confirm, I am in the UK (Scotland) and the first day I can leave the house or have a support worker in my home is Thursday, which isn't too long to wait. The charity has been quite good to me I am seeing someone on Friday and they have squeezed in an extra phone support so I get to talk to someone both Tuesday and Wednesday. So it's really ideas for next week onwards I am looking for, although I definitely do really enjoy having company in a cafe and won't stop that altogether.
posted by AuroraSky at 10:34 AM on September 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

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