Today is the first day of Carers Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
There are an estimated 13.6 million unpaid carers in the UK and it can be a demanding job. For lots of carers, taking care of someone is an important and fulfilling role, but there can still be strains and worries, and if you’re a carer it’s likely that you’ll need help and support at some point. Read our top tips below as a reminder to take good care of yourself too, and for more advice and support visit www.stchristophers.org.uk/carers or see some of the links at the bottom of this post.
5 self-care tips for carers
1) Feel It, whatever “It” may be; laughter, sadness, anger, guilt, relief. It’s okay not to be okay, and it is okay to have fun and enjoy yourself. You’re allowed to experience emotions and have the space to express them. If you ever feel like your emotions are becoming a problem then reach out for support; there are a lot of great online services to help if you are unable to meet someone face to face.
2) Remember you are still You. You have your own care needs and, whatever they may be, they need to be recognised and dealt with. It is not selfish to take time to care for yourself. Try to find the time or space to make yourself feel well, keep up with your own GP appointments and aim to spend time on your own hobbies and interests.
3) Remember to eat, drink and sleep! These needs often fall by the wayside and can be most disrupted in your caring role. Aim to eat nutrient dense foods, drink plenty of water and be mindful of alcohol intake. Good nutrition can help with energy levels and overall health. Many caring duties are 24/7 so trying to maintain good sleep habits and asking for time to allow you to sleep is vital. Check out ways to improve your sleep.
4) Listen to your body. Caring can often be physically demanding. Where possible, try to make sure you stretch your body and find time for physical activity you enjoy. This may be at home, something like yoga or dancing, or you may be able to attend a gym session or go for a run. If you feel at any point that you may have put too much stress on your body, speak to a professional to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
5) Ask for help. You can speak to professionals at your local Carer’s Centre or your GP. If you have a friend or family member you can speak to them to let them know how you’re feeling. It is okay to need support, and it’s better to look into the resources available to you long before you may need them. A lot of great services exist in the community to provide advice and support for both yourself and your loved one.
Mental health support
Help with sleep