Carers: Making time for yourself

Carers rights image (cropped)
12-06-2015

Life has changed for you, you are now a carer. Each day can bring a different set of demands. More than ever, your own self care is of utmost importance. Feeding your soul and resourcing yourself will have a positive impact on you and also the loved one you are caring for. Putting your loved one’s needs before yourself is very common but the physical, emotional and financial impacts can be underestimated.

So how can you make sure that you look after yourself?

How you feel
You need to examine how are you feeling, and acknowledge the impact on your own life and relationships. Talking to trusted family members and friends can help, as can writing things down. Some people may also  find keeping a journal beneficial.

As well as the needs of your loved one, make a conscious decision to include your own needs in your daily or weekly routine. Stay connected with others, keep in touch with friends and family, and make plans to meet and do things together. Be kind to YOU. Remind yourself of all the things you do well.

When you’re a carer, it’s easy to focus on the things that are no longer possible or easy. However, turn it on its head and try and focus on the things that you and the person you are caring for are able to do together.

Your support network
Support is often available and it is well worth finding out where your nearest support group is. There, you can meet other carers who are supporting a loved one with the same illness or problems. You may also find it helpful to join an online carers’ forum.

To try and get the most out of a support network, make a note of the things that you are finding most difficult that you would like some help with.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and family those things that are going well, as well as where you are struggling.

Care for YOU
It’s really important that you remember to care for yourself when you are caring for someone else. Make sure you exercise regularly and that you eat a balanced diet. Keep in touch with your GP, too, especially if you are feeling anxious or low, or not sleeping.

Keep yourself resilient
Try and take some respite for yourself as and when you can. If you have been feeling low for a long period, watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay in seeking professional help, such as visiting your GP.

When you do receive offers of professional help, and you accept, be specific about what would really make a difference. Find out as much as you can about your loved one’s condition, this will help you communicate more effectively with doctors and other services involved.

Grieve for your losses and then allow yourself to look to the future to new dreams. And, learn to trust your gut feeling; most of time it will lead you on the right track.

Can we help?

To speak to a member of the LionHeart support team, call 0845 603 9057 or email info@lionheart.org.uk

Bernadette is a LionHeart counsellor based at our Midlands Office.

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