Caring for a loved one can be a fulfilling and worthwhile experience, but it can be easy to neglect your own needs in the process. However, keeping yourself in the best possible mental and physical health is crucial not just for your own wellbeing, but to allow you to carry out your caring role to the best of your ability.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your equilibrium.
Let your GP know that you are a carer
The Carer’s UK website recommends telling your GP that you are a carer. This is not only so that they are aware of any impact on your own wellbeing, but also because they can be a useful source of information and advice.
For example, they may be able to put you in touch with carer’s groups in your local area, and recommend services or new treatments that are relevant to the health of the person that you care for. You should also be offered free flu jabs and Covid boosters if you are the primary carer for an ill, disabled, or senior person.
Check in with your mental health
Caring for someone full time can be emotionally demanding and exhausting. Sometimes, stress and depression may creep up on you, and it can be a difficult condition to shake off. It can affect sleep quality, appetite, and take away the pleasure that you used to take in your everyday life.
If you are feeling this way, it’s important not to let the feelings bottle up. Some people find relief in talking to a close friend or family member about the way they feel. Others may prefer to talk to a professional counsellor or join a support group.
Some people prefer to take a practical approach, by making time to get out and about in the fresh air or taking up a new form of exercise. This can be difficult when you are a full time carer however.
If this is the case, it may be beneficial to arrange some respite care at least once or twice a week, to allow you to take part in activities that you enjoy, whether that’s a social gathering, a physical activity, or arts and crafts. Joining a group can help you to feel a part of the community, and combat some of the isolation that carers often feel.
Take care of your physical health
It can be easy to always put others’ needs before your own if you are a carer, but it’s just as important to look after yourself. Eating a well balanced diet will give you the energy to take you through the day, and help to stabilise your mood. Avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol also helps to keep you from feeling tired and anxious.
Keeping to a regular bedtime and getting up time each day can help to establish a good sleeping pattern, which is crucial to both mental and physical health. If there are any health problems that are bothering you, it’s important to visit your GP as soon as possible.
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