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Are you a Carer?

Are you a Carer?

 

A carer is someone who looks after a partner, family member or friend who needs extra support because, for example, they are physically unwell, have a disability, are struggling with an addiction or experiencing mental health issues.

Caring for someone can be experienced very differently: you may really enjoy supporting your partner, friend or relative, or you may find it stressful, difficult and demanding; most likely you will have a variety of feelings about your caring role. You might feel isolated because the demands of your role make it hard to take time for other things, particularly if you are living with the person you are caring for. It might be a role you have agreed to step into or one you have taken on with little or no choice.

 

Issues for carers include

  •  Feeling tired – physically and emotionally
  • Not having enough time to live your life as you might wish to
  • Saying ‘no’ or asking for help might feel difficult
  • Isolation
  • Financial pressures

 

Monitoring your wellbeing

Being a carer of any kind can be demanding, however it may prove particularly challenging if you care for someone who is close to you. In such circumstances it can be hard to accept some of the difficult feelings that arise. It is important to know that you can get help if you are struggling in this way. You may experience low mood or heightened levels of anxiety, which are both common responses when under pressure or feeling overwhelmed. Take time to ask yourself how you are doing and how you are feeling. It is okay to have negative feelings about your caring role, the person you are caring for and the circumstances that require you to be the carer. You may not have asked for this responsibility or had time to process the reasons why it is necessary; or you may have chosen this role but hoped it would feel different.

 

Making time for self-care

It might be hard to set boundaries about the time you spend in your caring role and difficult to switch off when you are not actively caring. Making and keeping time every week to care for yourself both physically and emotionally will support you to manage the demands of your role.

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to support our mental health. Some people really enjoy vigorous exercise, but the benefits rest less on intensity than regularity, so finding time to take a gentle walk, for example, or an online yoga routine will make a positive difference.

Rest

Fixing proper time out from your caring role can help you manage your own wellbeing. It may not be possible to commit to a regular day/time, but maybe you can find some time each week to slow down and relax.

Connect

Your caring role and other responsibilities may make you feel that you are constantly in the company of others, or you may feel quite cut off. Try to find small ways to have positive connections throughout your week: for example, you could join a community with a shared interest, talk to a friend, get outside to connect with nature, indulge a hobby or find a new one.

Recreation 

Try to make time to do something that brings you pleasure: speak to a friend, put your feet up and read or watch something funny. Most importantly, allow yourself to have this time, trusting that it is yours to enjoy and that you really deserve it!

 

Accessing support

If you are finding things hard, take some time to consider what support you need. If your caring role is long term it is important to acknowledge that you may require extra help. Talking to a friend or a family member and asking for their assistance might be a first step. Finding ways to connect with others who are in a similar situation to you can be reassuring – it’s can be good to talk to people who know how it really feels. It might be useful to learn how to fix boundaries so that you feel more in control of your time. It can also be helpful to talk to someone who is not directly involved, for example your GP or a counsellor.

 

 Sources of support

  • Friends and family
  • Online support networks
  • GP and Social Services
  • Mental Health Specialists
  • Carers organisations, Charities, local Community and Faith Groups

 

Useful Links

Staff Counselling Centre

Homepage - Carers Trust

We’re here to make life better for carers - Carers UK

 

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