What do you do with yourself when you have a 'break'?

Well it’s not so much a break as much as my husband is in hospital…again. But when I’m not at the hospital visiting/sorting things out, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m so used to being with my husband 24/7 and helping him with everything, so just have no idea what to do with myself when alone/have free time.

I’ve done all the usual ‘self care’ stuff…nice long baths, doing nails, reading, cooking myself something nice. I’m just bored out of my mind and at a loose end really.

Does anyone else feel strange when they don’t have their caring responsibilities daily?

Sorry to hear your husband is back in hospital Jess.
I used to find it draining when my now late hubby was hospitalised, numerous times. The journey, the anxiety, left me very lacking in motivation. I’m now feeling brain fogged, as the formalities of his death are nearly over. Anxiety kicks in at the least little thing.
I know it’s not an answer for you, am just letting you know I can understand you feeling at a loose end.

Yes I remember lots of odd feelings. The first few times I just sat numb and battered in a coffee shop. it’s like being redundant.
Must be even harder as you don’t know when he will be out again. If you are sure he’s going to be in for a while, could you sneak in a a quick break away, a visit to family or friends or a mini holiday? I know youd feel guilty but it would be beneficial physically for yourself.

While at home futurelearn.com does thousands of online free courses on a range of subjects. It may look like some need paying for but only if you want a certificate

It’s a good opportunity to do some exercise and get used to practising meditations or yoga type things too… all good stuff for when the full time caring ramps up again.

Oh, and of course you can help out answering posts on here. We are a bit short of posters at the moment :wink:

I know exactly what you mean. I’ve cared for my wife for 14 years now, trying to cope with the increasing demands of a degenerative illness. I have one afternoon off, through arranging carers to sit with my wife, and occasional respite breaks. All too often I spend that just killing time, on my own. It makes me feel desperately isolated and lonely. The trouble is that we spend so much of our attention and focus on the person we are caring for that we don’t notice that our own lives have withered and diminished. There seems to be a feeling from social workers and support agencies that if we’re just relieved of our caring duties for a bit, we’ll be just fine - but it doesn’t work like that - it’s impossible to rebuild a social network or replace the ‘friends’ who have drifted away in an afternoon, or even a couple of weeks. I feel isolated and lonely when my wife is here (her disease has taken away all but a few brief glimpses of who she used to be) and I feel even more so when she is away, because I feel I’m just squandering the chance I have to enjoy a normal life. Last year, my wife was away for two weeks in respite and I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, nobody to do anything with. It was quite possibly the worst two weeks of my life. Last Monday, I took my wife to a nursing home because, following a stay in hospital, her care requirements have exceeded my ability to care for her. I’ve tried, but she now needs 24/7 care that I simply can’t provide here at home on my own, because I can’t stay awake or work 24/7. This could very well be permanent, so now I’m sitting here feeling isolated and lonely but with additional guilt that my best and monumental effort has not been good enough and I’ve let her down. In my early 60s I’m also feeling a little bit excited that, having put my own needs a long way second for so long, that I can re-establish a bit more of a life for myself before life’s ever accelerating journey pings me into my dotage. I’ve no idea how to do that, nor any clue about how to build new friendships -but then I feel guilty about being excited about getting a bit of my life back and it all starts over again. I’m probably also feeling a bit more sorry for myself than normal because it’s a bank holiday and everyone else in the world (or so it seems, is off doing bank holiday ‘stuff’).

Hi Jess and also Julian,
Jess- I hope everything is working out for you. It’s been a couple of months since you posted so did you find something to do and feel better? Apologies for responding to someone else on your post but in case it helps both of you ------------
Julian-First of all my sympathy in that you have had to allow your much loved wife to go into a nursing Home. Secondly please banish all feelings of guilt or inadequacy. You have obviously done your very, very best and there is no shame or guilt in finally admitting that her needs are beyond your (or anyone other than a team of trained people) ability to cope with. It doesn’t mean you have failed her, in fact you are still providing for her by making sure she is cared for and I’m sure you will still visit.
Kick starting your ‘life’ is difficult but not impossible. You need to understand that you are mentally, physically and emotionally very tired, which is probably why you are feeling negative right now. Take it one step at a time. Something as simple as taking a walk round the block/through the estate/down the road to the corner shop, to start maybe. Smile and greet the neighbours. Compliment their garden. Just a few moments conversation. Go to the local library. Take note of boards in such places. Outside the Church/in the supermarket. What groups are available in your local area. There may be something that appeals or even something that you have never ever thought of doing. Give it a go.
Life as you would like it to be in the future is unlikely to come looking for you. You have to go looking for it. There will be failures. Something you try might be a disaster. Something you try might be just right. Thing is, you have to try.
I’ve spent all bank holiday avoiding the heat and pottering in the shady parts of my garden. Not everyone is out enjoying themselves with the family. I’ve no idea what mine are doing today. My garden is one of my hobbies. Much neglected while I was busy caring. However I do still have my husband. He’s around here somewhere but hates gardening!
Think positive. Your lovely wife is in the best place for her needs. You are not all that old yet. There’s still a life for you to lead. No doubt that’s what she would want for you?

I could easily fill my days without any caring duties - I have hobbies.

Photographing Butterflies and Dragonflies, (and any other creepy crawlies that get in front of my lens).
One day I may even get my watercolours out and have another crack at that.

I’ve often wondered how I ever found the time to go to work before I retired.

Some counselling would help you adapt to what is going to be a new chapter in your life.

I’d also suggest a book called “Starting Again” by Sarah Litvinoff, published by Relate, usually available cheaply on ebay. It’s one of those books you can just look at a page or two, and then think about. After I was widowed, I kept it by my bedside for a long time. It’s really well written.

When did you last go on holiday? Getting away from it all for a week or two will really help focus on your future. You have put your wife first for such a long time, so please don’t feel guilty about investing in your own wellbeing for once.

Hi Jess.
Hi Julian
Julian, my husband who I lived dearly was in a nursing home for 3¾ years and prior to that 5months hospitalised. Took me a while not to visit everyday, but eventually it was every other day give or take. Eventually, I befriended other visitors at the nursing home. Had a cuppa with them once or twice a week. We would say how the visit had gone, then talk about other things. Maybe that is an option for you? I’ve been on a few day trips and after the 1st guilt feeling it became easier. I knew he was cared for.
You could go to a nice pub, order a drink, whether it be a pint or a coffee, read a paper. Hubby before his decline, would happily do that, and always ended up chatting with someone.
It’s hard I know, but you needn’t be reclusive
Take care, and keep posting. It helps


I have a unfinished puzzle book lying on my table at home. I used to exercise but I’m currently expecting my last baby first week of Jan 2020. So I now love to do some light stretches every morning for ten minutes. It helps.

Or I read at work. I’m a office worker and I like to take a book with me to read on my tea breaks. Whenever we had a particularly long hospital appointment with a urologist I often sat in the waiting room reading whatever I could find or my own book pre appointment. It helped me relax.