Self-care tips for carers
Caring for someone can be a tough job. Alongside your practical duties, it may come with many emotional complexities, and it’s easy to forget about your own needs. So here are five tips to help you maintain your own health and wellbeing while you’re looking after someone else.
Practice simple self-care
You’ve probably heard the old adage ‘you can’t give proper care if you’re not looking after yourself’. And although you may be tired of hearing it, it’s true. Our own needs don’t simply disappear in the face of someone else’s.
Self-care doesn’t have to involve a whole new regime. There are little things you can do each day to keep yourself healthy. Taking a little exercise, eating healthy food or taking an hour to simply switch off will make all the difference. It’s not indulgent to look after your own needs – it’s necessary.
Get emotional support
Support is available, but there are often barriers to getting help. Research has found that one such barrier is that many carers don’t recognise themselves as carers.
If you’re looking after someone, regardless of whether you think you fit into any particular definition of a carer, there is support out there. You could try speaking to an organisation like Carers UK, or your GP.
Support doesn’t have to come from an outside organisation. Even talking things through with friends and family will help. They may not realise how your care duties are impacting you.
Talk to your employer
If you’re employed, it might be worth talking to your employer about your caring duties, if you feel able. There might be measures they can put in place, such as flexible working, to make sure your work/life balance is manageable.
Maintain your own hobbies and interests
When you’re looking after someone, it’s easy to lose sight of your own passions, hobbies and interests. These are part of who you are, and although time pressures may have cut your leisure time down, it’s important to make a little room for these interests. Whether it’s popping on your favourite album or setting aside an hour or two a week for a hobby, you’ll find it makes a world of difference to your state of mind.
Explore the options for practical and financial help
You might be entitled to financial help – whether in the form of benefits or help from non-governmental agencies. There may also be respite care facilities available, or assistance in making home adaptations. Carers UK or your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you assess your entitlements.
You may find it useful to try our app. My Possible Self is available from the App Store, Google Play Store or via desktop. It features modules such as Managing Stress and Overload, Managing Loss and Major Life Change and Managing Fear and Anxiety, using clinically proven content. Find out more on our website.