As a carer, it is vital that you care for yourself, so that you can continue to care for others.
Here are a few tips on staying healthy.
Caring for a family member or friend can be rewarding. For most carers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide. It may be stressful at times, especially when there is a shift in roles and emotions and the demands of caring leave you feeling exhausted, alone or sad. Financial difficulties may also contribute to stress.
There are a range of ways to reduce your stress.
Schedule some “Me Time”
Taking time out for yourself is so important for self-care. Don’t neglect your own needs. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to invest in your ‘self’ – here are some easy suggestions:
- Have a cup of tea or coffee
- Watch a TV show or film
- Have a comfortable chair of your own to sit on indoors or outdoors
- Play your favourite music
- Read a magazine, books, or the internet
- Have a small project to work on in your shed
- Do something creative
- Lay down for a rest – yes, you are allowed to!
You may wish to download a relaxation app on your Smartphone. Try www.stopbreathethink.org or www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app
Stress can also be greatly reduced by staying organised. This can be difficult when situations arise with the person you are caring for; however a basic scheduling of your day may help you to remain calm and in control. Keeping a daily planner, simple list, diary or scheduled alarms (on most mobile phones) will help you in your daily routine. Writing down appointments, medication times, dosages and meal breaks may help. Always remember to be realistic and flexible in your schedule. Reducing stress is your goal – not adding to it.
Stress reductions techniques
Our counsellors at Carers Queensland also run fantastic programs state wide for stress reduction.
Self-esteem workshops, assertiveness programs, art therapy, writing, self awareness, therapeutic intervention, rest and relaxation groups are some of the support activities you can be a part of in your local area.
Call the Carer Advisory Service on 1800 242 636 to find out about support groups near you or to book a counselling appointment.
Nutrition and Exercise
Most people would benefit from increasing their fruit and vegetable intake.
A life-time habit of eating adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables every day can help prevent: coronary heart disease, some forms of cancer, obesity and constipation. It can also reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and improve control of diabetes.
Health authorities recommend you eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.
It’s also a good idea to keep healthy snacks available for you and the person you care for.
Exercise doesn’t mean having to join a gym or participate in any formal activity. Physical activity throughout your day can include a walk, bike ride or stretching exercises in your own home. Regular exercise is recommended for your health and wellbeing.
National Physical Activity guidelines are available from the Department of Health and Aging by phoning (02) 6269 1080
Relationships can change dramatically as your caring role changes and your time becomes limited. Friends and relatives may struggle to understand these changes and may therefore not understand your lifestyle changes. To make sure you maintain your relationships, follow these steps:
- Tell people that your life is changing and your need for maintaining the relationship is very important.
- Come up with ways of socialising with your friends or relatives that fit around your caring role. A movie night or takeaway at home, perhaps, if you can’t go out?
- Try new ways of communicating with your friends such as texting, emailing or joining an on line support group or blog.
- Ask your friend or relative to allocate a regular date and time for catching up over the phone.
- Start a ‘friendship chain’ for when things get tough, with three or more close friends. This ‘friendship chain’ lets your closest friends know that you are in need of help just by making one phone call. You call your first friend who then calls your second friend. Your second friend then calls your third friend and so on – letting everyone in the ‘friendship chain’ know what your need is.
- Ask a friend, relative or organisation to give you respite from your caring role.
- Asking for help in simple ways can also bring about new and deeper relationships with friends and family. Sharing a cup of tea whilst cleaning, talking about issues while doing dishes and confiding to a friend while tidying the yard are all creative ways of remaining in relationships.
Carers Queensland support groups are held state-wide and are a great way to meet others who will understand your situation.
Want more information?
Connecting with us is easy, call on 1800 242 636, email email@example.com, or visit our Contact Us page.
If you are looking for something more local, check out our Regional Offices and Support Groups.
While all care has been taken to ensure information is accurate, it is intended as a guide only – please check our Disclaimer Page for more information.