Sickle cell disease: Doing enjoyable activities

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Doing enjoyable activities is an important step in easing negative emotions. Find examples of enjoyable activities and tips that can help you make time for enjoyable activities every day, even if you already feel busy.

Key points

  • It may feel like the things you need to do are hard enough when you are having pain or experiencing negative emotions, but it's important to do activities you enjoy because they can help improve your mood, feel less tired and think more clearly.
  • Everyone has different ideas of activities that are enjoyable. Think about which activities you might enjoy and what is realistic for you to do.
  • Choose activities that are a good fit for you and plan to do at least one of these activities each day.
  • To help you build enjoyable activities into your day, start with something simple that you know you can do and think about when you want to do the activity and how long you want to spend on it.
  • Writing down the activities and telling someone you trust about your plan can help you be more committed to following through.

There are certain activities that you have to do, or need to do, such as going to school or helping out around the house. When you have sickle cell disease, you may also have to work even harder at school and elsewhere because you have less energy or you need to catch up if you missed school.

It may feel like these things are hard enough when you are having pain, and even worse when you are experiencing negative emotions. Doing something else, even if it is fun, may be the last thing on your mind.

But we know that, over time, doing activities that you enjoy can:

  • improve your mood
  • help you feel less tired
  • help you begin to think more clearly

Choosing enjoyable activities

Blue, bean-shaped Copey character sitting on a couch reading a book

Everybody has slightly different ideas of activities that are enjoyable. Something that your friend enjoys might seem very boring to you, and that's OK!

To help you schedule some enjoyable activities in your day, first figure out which activities you might like doing.

When choosing activities, keep a few things in mind.

  • The activity should be realistic for you to do right now.
  • The activity should not rely on things that aren’t easily available to you. For instance, you wouldn’t choose "playing video games" if the only place you can play them is in a friend’s home.

Now, make a plan to try to do at least one enjoyable activity each day. To get you thinking, read the list of activities below and choose the ones that you think are a good fit for you.

  • Window shopping
  • Watching TV
  • Playing video games
  • Having visitors
  • Visiting a library/bookstore
  • Walking (in/outdoors)
  • Playing board games or cards
  • Doing exercise
  • Playing sports (choose a couple you like)
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Doing group activities
  • Caring for pets
  • Praying
  • Going to church
  • Playing or listening to music
  • Doing crafts
  • Cooking or baking
  • Singing
  • Writing a letter/email
  • Planting or gardening
  • Watching movies
  • Reading
  • Watching a sports event
  • Making phone calls to friends
  • Dancing
  • Spending time on hobbies (choose some specific hobbies you enjoy)
  • Taking photographs

Building enjoyable activities into your day

Copey character lying on their back on a beach

You might be wondering how to schedule enjoyable activities into your day if you already feel very busy or overwhelmed. The tips below might help.

Start simple

Doing new things can feel like a huge effort and it may be difficult to get started. Start with activities that you know you can do.

Think about when you want to do the activity

If it is a school day, you might want to pick an activity that you can do during your lunch break or maybe plan to do the activity after school or in the evening.

Think about how long you want to spend on the activity

How much time you spend on the activity may depend on what else you have going on. On busy days, you might schedule an enjoyable activity for as little as 10 or 15 minutes. Even a small amount of time doing something you like can help ease your pain and improve your mood. On weekends, you may have more time to spend on enjoyable activities.

Write down your activities

It can help to use a calendar or planner—or even your phone—to record what you are going to do each day so you have a reminder.

Tell others about your plan

Tell someone you trust about the enjoyable activities you will do and when. Sharing your plans with others can help you feel more committed to actually following through with them!

Notice how you feel after an enjoyable activity

Think about how you feel after doing an activity you like. Chances are that, over time, you will start to feel a little better or have a little more energy.

Remember what it feels like to do something you enjoy and keep aiming for a fun activity, even if you don’t feel like doing anything some days. Doing something fun regularly is an important step in easing negative emotions.

Example of building enjoyable activities into your day

Check out what Kevin said about his experience scheduling activities:

“I hadn’t been doing much lately. I was in pain, and I stopped going out and just wanted to be left alone. But I wasn’t feeling good. I felt angry that I was in pain and alone. I decided that I wanted to start feeling better about myself again, so I picked something fun to do each day and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. At first, I spent time with my dog and spoke to a friend each day. After about a week or two, these things started to make me feel less angry and alone.

I also really wanted to get back to playing basketball, but I didn’t feel good enough yet. So I went and watched on weekends. Even doing that made me feel better than I had felt before. After a couple of weeks, I wanted to join back in and after my first game I felt really happy.”

Scheduling fun activities is not the only thing you can do. Next up is learning to find the positives.

Last updated: January 4th 2024