Emotional Care: Self Support for Carers
Whether you are a professional care provider or a family member, there are times when you may notice yourself feeling burnt out. Caring is a demanding job both physically and mentally. It often involves long hours and may be a 24/7 job for family members. This is why it is very important to factor self-support activities into your daily life. Whether you have never considered prioritising self-care before, or your routine needs a revamp, we have some useful tips to make looking after yourself easier. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Get your endorphins flowing
Getting your blood pumping releases endorphins which can help you feel brighter and ready to take on the day. A brisk walk will do if you aren’t up to vigorous exercise or don’t have the time. Another way to care for your nervous system is to meditate. Just a few minutes a day can help to calm your senses and reduce stress levels. There are many apps you can download to make meditating easy which might be the way to go if you are short on time.
2. Eat well
Getting your five plus a day is important as a carer. It may be tempting to reach for salty or sugary snacks when you feel exhausted. To combat this, try to keep a healthy snack such as a handful of nuts on hand, and see if you can get some help from friends or family with meal prepping healthy meals for the week ahead.
3. Do an activity you enjoy
When you are constantly putting the needs of someone else first, it can be hard to remember what you even like to do! If you find yourself with a little bit of free time available, see if you can use it to pick up an old hobby or learn a new one such as gardening, painting, or another relaxing activity. Treating yourself to a movie, a meal out, or another pamper remedy can do wonders in terms of lifting your spirits.
4. Prioritise sleep
Sleep deprivation can make it more difficult to deal with any issues that arise throughout the day. It may be difficult to get your full eight hours if you need to get up and provide care throughout the night, but do your best to get in bed at a reasonable hour and get some quality sleep. If the person you care for has continence issues, you can reduce the need for waking to change the sheets by using aids such as bed pads.
5. Phone a friend
Keeping connected with others is important. You don’t need to plan grand social activity, simply having a cup of tea with someone you feel comfortable talking to can help clear your head much more than you might think. Sometimes it’s nice to talk to people who understand what you are going through. There may be a local support group in your area for carers that you can join. If not, there are online forums in Australia where you can get support and guidance.
6. Take a break
This might not sound feasible if you are a full-time carer, however there are little things you can do throughout the day to instil a sense of calm and peace. Having mindful moments can reduce your stress levels and keep you in the present. Take one minute to focus on your breathing, or try having a mindful cup of coffee where you fully focus on the action of enjoying your drink. If you feel like you need a proper break, you may be eligible for respite so you can focus on yourself for a day or two and return to caring feeling refreshed.
7. Practise self-compassion
This is much easier said than done, we know. However, practising self-compassion has proven results when it comes to improving mental health. Putting yourself down, judging the quality of care you are giving, or feeling inadequate is not going to help yourself or the person you are caring for. Try speaking to yourself how you would speak to a dear friend and you might notice that you are less harsh and more forgiving.