Five Steps… Self-Care for Carers

necsCarers

Caring can be tough – self-care is so important

Caring for someone can sometimes be completely overwhelming.  The high demands on you and your time can result in stress and anxiety. This may affect your ability to cope with everyday tasks and your confidence and self-esteem can be worn down.  Giving all your time and attention to someone else can also leave you feeling socially isolated with no time to consider what your own needs are, let alone how to meet them.

Giving all your time and attention to someone else can also leave you feeling socially isolated with no time to consider what your own needs are, let alone how to meet them.

There are a number of things you should consider to ensure you stay well enough to continue providing the best care you can.

As a carer – look after your own health

You may feel too busy to focus on your own health but if you become unwell, who will provide the necessary care then?  There are some simple ways to help stay fit and well

  • Eat well – Food can have a significant impact on your mood and your energy levels. Eat healthy, regular meals with as much fresh fruit and veg as possible, and drink plenty of water.
  • Rest & Sleep – Tiredness can lead to low mood and depression. Try to create a regular sleeping pattern; this may need to fit around the care you provide.  For example, you may be able to split your sleep, around the activity and sleep of the person you care for.
  • Exercise – Physical activity can help enormously, releasing “feel-good” hormones into your system, assisting your general metabolism and allowing you some head space. Even a regular short walk instead of the car or the bus can make a difference.

Talk

Share your feelings and your worries.  You may feel like talking is pointless if it can’t change anything, or you may not want to “put upon” others.  However, talking to a trusted friend, someone who is experiencing something similar, a counsellor or even a stranger can have a massive effect on the weight you are carrying.

However, talking to a trusted friend, someone who is experiencing something similar, a counsellor or even a stranger can have a massive effect on the weight you are carrying.

Talking about something entirely unrelated to your caring role can be uplifting too; taking your mind off your worries.  You could join a group or an evening class perhaps.  There is also an array of online resources about everything from Art History to Zoology, chat rooms and social media you could use if leaving the house and the person you care for is difficult.  Your local library may be able to help you learn how to access these.

Your local library may be able to help you learn how to access these.

Be Organised

Try to prioritise your time.   There are some daily tasks that have to be done at specific times, such as getting children off to school, meals and providing medication.  It can help to know what has to be done when and to know when you can be more flexible with your time.

  • Create a daily planner with all of the priority tasks timetabled in
  • Identify any flexible time slots. These are times when you can address the lower priority but nevertheless important jobs and the unexpected jobs.

Have important and emergency information such as GP, social worker, health visitor and pharmacy contact details, all in one easy to access place.

Make Time for Yourself

Don’t forget to factor in some regular time for you.  Having coffee with a friend, going to the cinema or enjoying a hobby can give you some time out from your caring responsibilities, leaving you refreshed and re-charged.

Being able to relax and enjoy the moment is a valuable skill.  There are several techniques that you can learn to maximise your relaxation such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.  Many community centres and local education centres run classes and plentiful CDs DVDs and books are available to help you learn.

There are several techniques that you can learn to maximise your relaxation such as:

  • yoga,
  • meditation
  • mindfulness

Many community centres and local education centres run classes and plentiful CDs DVDs and books are available to help you learn.

There may be times when you need to take a longer break, try and spend some time away on a holiday or short break.  There are organisations that can provide advice and guidance on arranging respite care – see further information below.

Get Some Support

Know what’s available to you. There are a number of dedicated organisations that provide a range of practical advice and support to carers.  You will find details of how to contact some of them below.

North East Counselling Services (NECS) was founded by carers, so we understand the complex and challenging issues that many carers and their families face on a day to day basis.

If you need help please call us on (0191) 440 8217.

We provide FREE counselling to carers, cared for and their families in Gateshead.

Counselling is provided in North East Counselling Services (NECS) counselling rooms in central Gateshead or from a variety of outreach venues including Gateshead Carers. Counselling needs to take place in a neutral, confidential setting, therefore, we are unable to offer home visits.

Gateshead Carers www.gatesheadcarers.com  0191 490 0121

Gateshead Carers offer support, advice, advocacy and they campaign for carers living and or working within Gateshead.  They support all carers regardless of the age, disability or illness of the carer or cared for person.  They can advise about all aspects of care and they will make time to listen to you and offer the support you need.

Crossroads Care Gateshead www.gatesheadcrossroads.org.uk  01207 549 780

Crossroads provide professional, flexible care to cover short breaks for carers for anything from a few hours to a few days.  They can also provide a range of information and advice around benefits and available services.  Support, advice and advocacy is also provided to young carers from age 5 to 25 including opportunities for “time out” from caring and to meet others who are in similar situations, as well as 1:1 support and regular newsletters

If you are outside of Gateshead and would like to find your local carers support organisation, visit www.carers.org/local-support

The Carers Trust   www.carers.org 

A national online resource offering a wide range of supportive information and advice around care and self-care, links to services local to you,  blogs and a discussion board, information regarding benefits, carers’ own stories as well as local and national news and events.