Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Taking care of yourself when you’re caring for others

Being a carer for someone who suffers from a mental or physical illness comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Although care giving is generally an act of love and can be extremely rewarding, it can, over time, have a negative impact on your own wellbeing if you don’t take care of yourself.

  • Juggling a full-time job with caring can be physically and mentally exhausting.
  • It can also put a strain on your personal relationships.
  • Caregiving can be a cause of financial concern as you might have to contribute to any costs, especially when it’s a close family member.
  • You neglect your own wellbeing as you have less time to spend doing the things you enjoy. 

Because you are spending the majority of your time thinking about others, it becomes difficult to make self care a priority. Over time, this can cause stress and anxiety which can result in total burnout or symptoms of depression. But before we can take care of others, it’s vital to ensure you are looking after yourself first. You might believe that this is selfish but it’s critical for you to be the best carer that you can be.

Tips for self-care

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes each day doing something for yourself, whether that’s meditation, taking a relaxing bath, watching your favourite programme. or going for a walk.
  2. Accept help from others whenever you can. This doesn’t mean that you have to rely on people all of the time but now and again accepting help can really take some of the load off and let you recharge.
  3. Break your routine sometimes. Routine can be really positive but too much of a strict routine can also be stressful and tiring.
  4. Often carers shut off from their own feelings and emotions because they believe that they have to be strong at all times, but this can cause a build up of stress and can result in exhaustion. Speak with a close friend, family member or health professional if you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired as this can be a great outlet that will relieve some of your stresses and worries.
  5. Make time for family and friends so that you can laugh together and enjoy fun activities – after all it is said that laughter is the best medicine.
  6.  Practise deep breathing and relaxation whenever you have a moment. When we are so busy and stressed out, we often forget to breathe properly and release the tension in our shoulders. It’s been proven in lots of studies that deep breathing techniques can help us manage stress and reduce feelings of anxiety. 

An article published by Harvard Business Review, looked at research into breathing exercises and the effect on reducing stress. Following a stressful task, a group who had performed breathing exercises prior to the task were “not only in a more positive emotional state, but were also more able to think clearly and effectively perform the task at hand.” This just goes to show the importance of taking care of yourself before taking care of others.

Further information

For more tips on looking after yourself and giving yourself the compassion and care you deserve, check out our our FREE pdf booklet Understanding and Learning How to Be Self-Compassionate – A Workbook and Guide

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