7 Ways to Prep When You Can’t Be Active

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Author of What to Eat When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Sometimes, even the most athletic of us are down for the count due to injury or illness. Does that mean that you have to say goodbye to all survival efforts? I’d like to think you can still do things to prep when you can’t be active.

Life happens, and we aren’t always ready to hike for ten days straight to get to a distant bugout location where we’ll live off the land. We’ve posted articles before about how to prep when you’re not at your best. Today, I wanted to share my own experience.

What happened?

Back in January, before I was heading off to Europe, I got up one morning, and my ankle was achy. I pushed through and within a couple of days it downright hurt. I assumed it was a sprain. A dear friend came and helped me pack up my apartment, along with my youngest daughter. I got a big, ungainly boot and got on the plane.

A long 20 hours of travel left me sore and exhausted. For the first week that I was in Greece, I could hardly leave the house because it was a flight of stairs up and down to go anywhere. But it was Greece. I ordered my groceries and some delicious meals and sat out in my garden to bask in the sunlight.

After a couple of weeks of this, I got diagnosed with a torn ligament and I saw a physical therapist there who helped me get back on my feet. There was still a nagging pain if I walked more than three miles, and lengthy walks generally meant a day of rest afterward with my foot up. This trend continued until I did a tour in Romania that included three ancient castles with teeny tiny curved stairways.  (Our ancestors must’ve had the most dainty feet in comparison to ours today – those steps were so SHORT!) My ankle was screaming in agony after that and I never got it back to pain-free.

I returned to the US and endured the flight, run-walking through the Munich Airport and Ohare Airport due to incredibly short layovers, and then I moved into my apartment here. After 9 months of this, it’s pretty clear this is not just going to go away. The pain has been relentless, so I finally went to see a foot and ankle specialist.

He diagnosed me with Post Tibial Tendon Dysfunction and has put forth a healing regimen that could take up to six months. And the first part of it is….bed rest. A good friend of mine has often shaken his head and told me I’m an absolutely terrible and stubborn patient. But this time, I’m determined to behave myself. I’ve tried to push through, and it’s obviously not working.

I’m to sit here and do nothing for two entire weeks and close to nothing on the third week, at which time I return to see if I’m freed from the prison of my bed and sectional sofa. I have a hefty brace on my ankle that is to be worn any time I’m not sleeping or in the shower. At the risk of sounding like a whiner, as a go-go-go person, sit-sit-sitting is really difficult for me. But it’s either comply with these instructions or end up having major surgery, which includes a cast for months and even more time sit-sit-sitting.

Eat properly.

First things first, I can eat chips and queso, or I can eat food that nourishes me, has positive effects on the rebuilding of my tendons, and doesn’t increase inflammation. Generally speaking, I don’t believe in stringent diets that rule out entire swaths of food, but while I’m immobile, I need to keep things simple and effective.

I’m eating meals that are filled with high-quality meat and fresh veggies. I’m going for extremely low carbohydrate, high protein, and moderate fat. I don’t intend to eat like this forever, but while I’m banned from exercise, I can give my body the best possible shot at maintaining health and healing. Is this a prep? I guess you could look at it that way. I’m improvising to make my meals with a bare minimum of prep time on my feet and I’m nourishing myself at the highest level I can manage. I’m trying to maintain my weight or even lose a few pounds, which is never a bad thing when you are a prepper. When I’m able to come out of this I want to be as healthy as possible to face physical therapy.

This isn’t really a prep – it’s just an important factor. Every decision you make when you’re down and out has bearing on the future, right down to what you put in your mouth.

You can still prep when you can’t be active.

No, you can’t go hiking, you can’t tend a garden, you can’t be on your feet to process a hundred pounds of tomatoes. All of these are the things I love to do, but for now, if I want to avoid surgery (and I do) I cannot do them.

But that doesn’t mean this time has to be completely wasted as I eat chocolate and weep. I gritted my teeth and came up with a list of things I could do to become a better-prepared person right here from the sofa.

Research.

What prepper doesn’t love a research rabbit hole? Are there things you want to learn more about but you just have too many other things going on in a day to sit down and dig in?

I’ve been delving into the whole Hunter Biden/Big Guy controversy and reading all the overwhelming evidence. I’ve been learning about how people lived in Ancient Ireland to see what survival tips I can glean. I’ve been nerding out on Nietzsche. It’s actually all been quite enjoyable to have the time to dedicate to this.

Learn a language.

I’m keeping up with the languages I began learning during my travels. I alternate between Spanish, Greek, and Russian lessons. I use the free app DuoLingo and have notebooks filled with doodles in Cyrillic to reinforce that alphabet in my brain.

Will these be a useful prep? Possibly. It never hurts to be able to communicate with others, and sometimes, it’s helpful to sit quietly and listen when people think you cannot understand them. But more than that, learning languages is great for your brain. Bilingual people have more neurons and dendrites that folks who speak only one language, which means they think faster, and the ability to switch from one language to another actually boosts the reserves of one’s brain.

Cambridge reports:

Having new experiences (novelty) is an important factor in forming new connections in the brain and strengthening nervous system links. These links and connections are maintained through regular practice.

Studying a new language combines novelty with practice. For example, students learn new words and grammatical constructs and spend time reviewing and building on their previous knowledge as part of the learning process.

This combination is one of the reasons that language learning is such an effective brain workout and protects older learners against dementia and other degenerative neurological conditions.

But everyone can benefit from language learning. It is arguably one of the most complex mental activities you can do. So, it’s a powerful way to exercise your brain.

I’ve noticed myself that since I began seriously studying languages, I think faster, I speak my first language more eloquently, and I’m less forgetful.

Learn a skill.

You can spend your downtime learning a skill. I’m working on embroidery right now because it’s a good way to teach myself to stitch by hand. Once I’m mobile, I can apply this knowledge to bigger hand-sewing projects. You can read books about a chosen skill, watch videos, and devour internet content about it to become very well-versed. Even if it’s something you can’t physically do now, you can put all the pieces into place so that when it’s time to do it later, you have the knowledge you need.

Order delivery.

If you want to work on your stockpile and supplies, you can have some things delivered. Each Instacart delivery that comes to my house has a few things to add to the stockpile that would never really catch anyone’s attention: a pack of batteries, a dozen canned goods, a bag of rice, a bag of dried beans, flour, a couple of jugs of water, and kitty litter come along with whatever else I’m ordering.

Catch up on reading.

I finally have time to delve into that huge stack of books I’ve been waiting to read. Books about old-fashioned food preservation are in the current pile. You might want to read about building shelters, creating a root cellar, or some other topic that has a lot of information to consume.

Watch preparedness videos.

There are loads of great prepper channels on both YouTube and Rumble. Pick your favorite and find some new preppers and homesteaders to follow. These are great to watch while I work on my sewing skills.  (And don’t forget our friends, Modern Refugee and the Survivalist Prepper). It’s pretty easy to go down a fascinating rabbit hole this way!

Write out instructions for loved ones.

Another thing you can do is put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and put together thorough instructions for your family members. Include things like your bug-out plan, how to work the generator, how you start seeds, how to manage household systems, how to treat health issues at home – any of the things you normally handle yourself. You need a HARD COPY of this stuff so that if you are unable to help one day, the people you love will not be stuck with their hands tied.

You can prep when you can’t be active.

Whether your issue is for a few weeks or months like mine or whether you have a permanent disability that keeps you off your feet,  you can make the most of this time. Exercise your brain when you can’t exercise your body. It really helps stave off depression and angst from being stuck on the couch, and it gives you a sense of purpose.

It’s important to note that if things went totally sideways while I was supposed to be resting my joints, then I would not be in prime condition to deal ith it. I’m certainly not trying to say that being bedbound is as good as being active. But life throws us a lot of curveballs. We have ups and downs. It’s how you deal with these challenges that speaks to your true character. Are you a survivor or not?

You’re only done when you quit.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever been immobile for a while? Do you think it’s possible to prep when you can’t be active? How did you spend your time? What ways were you able to become better prepared when you weren’t able to get outside and do your normal tasks?

Let’s talk about it in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • I have a tricky knee that can easily go out. I can’t afford the time off work for the surgery. I now carry a knee brace, in my back pack and am considering a collapsible folding cane. Ya never know . Are you considering some sort of emergency ankle support in your emergency preps and/or a cane in case of an emergency and reinjury? During C$vid lockdown, I discovered you and have permanently gone down rabbit holes and never looked back. I full on prep to the best of my abilities. Now, it’s maintenance. A little at a time. I’m working on acquiring knowledge/skills.

  • Daisy, look into both Laser therapy AND Hyperbaric Oxygen to heal faster! Both can speed healing, and in combination, you can be on your feet and pain free faster.
    Have you considered re-writing your will while you have your feet up?

    I love the idea of writing down instructions! I don’t necessarily make a binder of instructions, I use the old school method of putting a piece of paper inside a cupboard door for the short instructions, like “furnace filters and capacitors for AC in the utility room on top shelf” and I do like to hang instructions on the side of appliances etc.

    For instance:
    1. How do you change the furnace filter, and how often? Tape a paper on the side with the date of the last change, and update it every time. Keep a few extra filters on hand when you can buy them on sale

    2. Take pictures of how to change the capacitor on the AC unit, and add those with instructions to the box where the new capacitor is kept (no sense spending $500.00 on something you can easily repair yourself, and ours blows out every time we take a big power hit, so I keep 4-5 on hand, at about $30 each)

    3. How do you change the water filter for the house? Where are the extras stored? Add short directions to cupboard list, and put detailed instructions with the extras.

    4. When was the last time the water heater was drained? Instructions and a note with the date can keep records straight and doing the maintenance can keep it in tip top shape. Use a sharpie to write the date of purchase on the appliance.

    5. I hang receipts and warranty paperwork on the side of the big upright fridge in Ziplock bags with magnet hooks. Some people use a file cabinet for this, but whatever works…

    Sorry you got injured, but so happy that you are being productive in your down time!

    • good ideas gina. as for the laser etc, just be sure your insurance covers something like that. I have been fighting the pain with achilles tendonitis for 3 mos, still not well, found out next step could be the laser care….insurance usually will not pay for it! my doc quoted 70.00 a treatment for about 5-10 treatments. wow. and I’ve done what he told me, still doing it, had PT, ultrasound, tens, ice, home exercises…still do the exercises/ice. still some pain when walking (I’m in 70s). so get well, do what they tell ya, and hope no surgeries…..

  • While you are inactive seriously think about what life is like for those who are in this condition everyday forever. Figure out how to live and survive in this condition when SHTF and you are alone. How would you get by everyday. Pretend you have no electricity during this time. How do you bathe when you are unable to carry water or anything around? How do you prepare? How do you keep warm and secure food and cook for yourself? How do you secure supplies and maintain when there is no heat or electricity? How do you keep living area clean? Please learn how now and share with your readers how then can survive when lack physical ability or dependent on wheelchair and lack mobility. How can they prepare and then how can they live? You have hope of getting better and physically up and about but so many of us do not. How can people mostly in bed who live on their own survive? I think that is the best way you could spend this time to understand and teach your readers who cannot physically prepare and live doing much of what preppers do. What would you do now in your current situation if there was no grocery delivery, or prepared meal delivery, no heat, no electricity and no running water(indefinitely)? Hope you recover well and sooner than anticipated but this could be a huge experience to help people with physical disabilities and immobile for the most part who are able to live on their own now, who can only stand a few minutes, barely walk and need arms for mobility aids. So many preppers only address people who are physically healthy without mobility issues that require crutches or wheelchairs. So many who depend on home health and other social services have already seen drastic cuts in those services and programs cut due to money problems or lack of employees for over a year. I have planned for this and will share in the future but I think you can learn much to share with this population while you recover as you figure it out. I am curious what you come up with. Thank you for all you share.

    • right on beverly! yep there are many out there in situations like this or worse, and not knowing what to do. have a hubs that doesnt believe we need to go to extremes on prepping, but I grew up in the 60s and my dad prepared us. so its in my blood, but my physical condition now (in my 70s) doesnt help in furthering my preps on my own. oh well, I do the best I can with what I can do, afford, etc. and pray for the best. Good luck to all

  • You could work on upper body strength,or for those with upper body issues, lower body strength.

    Drinking bone broth and supplementing with collagen can help with healing, too.

  • I’m “semi-immobile” right now — osteoarthritis/bone on bone in both knees. I use a cane or a walker as needed. Some time early next year, I’ll have the first of two knee replacement surgeries which will, with surgery and rehab, use up 18 months to 2 years so this article gives me ideas of things to do when I have to “be good” and NOT “overdo”.

    • Don’t despair-I had both knees replaced, one at a time, in 2018. Best decision that I ever made! To be free of constant pain was a real God Sent Blessing. The PT is hard but it is required to become as smooth and effortless in your walk as you were before the damage. Best of luck!!

  • Knowing you can adapt to different circumstances is a good skill for a prepper to have. My husband is a Vietnam vet (3 years in country with the 5th Special Forces) and had a hard time settling down in his jobs or our locations. In our 20th year of marriage, we moved into our 30th residence, our first home that we owned. That experience taught me how to overcome and adapt quickly to changes in location, environment, living spaces, financial circumstances, etc. I couldn’t waste time boo hooing or living in denial of what was happening. I had to hit the ground running and problem solve my way through the moves (most of them unexpected for me). Thankfully, we lived in our home for 21 years, until my husband retired, and we moved in with my son (at his invitation). Luckily, he too is a prepper so we are in sync on that. But that last move took a bit more effort at adapting and overcoming, with our age and all now. So my message is, embrace adapting and overcoming anything that life throws at you, and you will be better prepared when the SHTF.

  • “(Our ancestors must’ve had the most dainty feet in comparison to ours today – those steps were so SHORT!)”. Well for some of us, the small feet continue to this day. Just makes buying shoes a bit more of a challenge as not all children’s size look okay on adult.
    You can call it what you want – bed rest etc. but I call it chair tasks. Things you can accomplish, mostly quietly I might add. Planning, organizing, reading, heck you could even sort and/or clean things (if someone brought the to-clean items and cleaning supplies). Also could be a temp job of answering the phone.
    Those who cannot change with the times or roll with the punches are doomed.
    Now stay off your feet. My two recent “take ins” are not lap cats. YMMV however.

  • Daisy, would you consider adding a thumbs up feature on the comments. There are usually several that are quite good and I want to be supportive of them, but it seems repetitive to just keep adding comments like “Excellent!” or “I agree.”

    • I looked into it and unfortunately the only gadget I could find that allowed it required a log-in. But let me check again – who knows, there could be some great new stuff out there 🙂

  • These are some great ideas. Especially about writing down plans for family members. I am going to do that asap because that is one of the preps I totally forgot. I was writing a small diary for my grandchildren of what’s been going on the last 3 years so I will add prep plans to that as well. I made prep plans for my niece after my sister passed away 2 years ago. I’ll have to revisit that with her soon too honestly.

  • O and Daisy I meant to tell you last week I am so sad about your foot and am praying for you that it will heal quickly

  • I was thinking about trying to make it a point to do something toward preparedness every day this winter. It won’t be the kind of preparedness that I am doing this summer, but I will be preparing in the other ways you suggest. In December/January, I might be canning meat and learning skills In February/March I’ll be learning more about fighting bugs (squash bugs, I’m coming to get you!) in the garden and then planting the early garden crops and prepping the ground for planting. PS. I too use Duolingo!

    • Shop vac works great on squash bugs, and also on those red box elder bugs. You can dump them in a bag and squash those, or sprits a little pesticide on em. WAY better than spraying everything with pesticide. If you are not opposed to pesticide, you some Seven dust.

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