How to show yourself self-love when caring for someone else…
This Carers Week (June 7-13), we want to shine a spotlight on the amazing young carers across the country and offer help and advice for anyone who is struggling to cope. It can be incredibly difficult to look after your own mental health and well-being while looking after someone else but it’s so important to show yourself some self-care.
You & Your Mental Health
Caring for someone else can be extremely rewarding but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. It’s a big responsibility and can be mentally, physically, and emotionally draining at times. Stress and anxiety can become overwhelming putting you at risk of developing problems with your mental health.
Being a carer can also feel very lonely at times. You may have had to give up a lot of your free time to take care of someone, leaving you no time for hobbies and friends. You might also feel as if your friends don’t understand your responsibilities and envious of the freedom they have. Many carers feel guilt, frustration and even anger at the ‘loss’ of their own life.
It’s very easy to forget about your own needs when you’re busy focusing on someone else’s but taking care of your own mental health is just as important.
Six Self-Care Tips
- Talk to someone you can be completely honest with. Everyone needs to unburden every now and again – and everyone needs support. You could chat to a friend on the phone, join an online support group or call a helpline to talk anonymously. It’s important to reach out for help when you need it, especially if you’re feeling lonely isolated. We’ve listed a few helpful contacts below.
- Make time for yourself. This can feel almost impossible at times but it’s crucial you have a break to clear your head and ‘reset’. Even if it’s just an hour to read a book, take a nap, meet up with a friend for coffee or hit the gym, it gives you something to look forward to and time away from the stress and strain of caring for someone else. Try to plan some ‘me time’ into your schedule, if you can, or reach out for help in finding a respite carer. You can find more information here.
- Get enough sleep. If you’re up through the night with your loved one and often have broken sleep, this can make you feel tired and less able to cope. Try to nap through the day, if possible, or head to bed earlier if you can. Trouble drifting off? Read our guide to the best sleep apps here.
- Try to exercise. Physical activity has such a positive impact on our mental health, but it can be difficult to find the time when you’re a young carer. Try to move around a little more – you could add a blast of activity to your usual household chores, like jogging on the spot while you do dishes. Read our Five Easy Fitness Swaps and see if you can give them a go today!
- Find a new hobby you can do with the person you care for. It can help you find a common interest and bring you closer together in a positive way. This can help you overcome feelings of resentment as you focus on a more positive aspect of your carer relationship.
Get More Help
Every carer needs help from time to time. To find more information about getting respite care and financial, practical, and emotional support, click here.
For more information on Carers Week click here.