When someone you love suddenly needs care for a physical and/or mental impairment, it isn’t just their lives that are going to change, yours will too. There will be a significant impact on your life should you become their primary carer.
Caring for a loved one is a rewarding life. You know you are making a difference. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be stressful. There can be disheartening moments and this could leave you vulnerable to suffering from depression, anxiety, or burnout.
That is why it’s important to find ways to look after yourself. So here are our top tips on how you can take care of yourself as a new carer of a loved one:
- Embrace the caregiving career – don’t think about the lost opportunities, or the burden placed upon you, remember everything good you have gained.
- Focus on what you can control – you can’t wish your loved one better, but you can look for new tools or support that places you in control when facing everyday challenges.
- Celebrate small victories – knowing your loved one is happy, safe, and comfortable is a success and you should celebrate that every day.
- Connect – You don’t have to do this alone. Friends and family can be there to listen to your concerns. Use your support network to lessen the mental challenges you face.
- Take a break – Arrange to be able to take regular respite breaks from care, otherwise, you could burnout. It doesn’t have to be a long break, you could meet a friend at a café or take a walk along a beach for example. When you take a break and a moment to relax, you will then be able to return to caring refreshed and re-energised.
- Reward yourself – Don’t think just because you’re a caregiver you should be selfless all the time. Make sure you treat yourself or reward your efforts. It doesn’t have to be much, a piece of your favourite cake or a new DVD can do you the world of good.
- Talk to support groups – There are lots of charities that can help you at any time. Some will offer respite care, others a shoulder to cry on.
- Exercise regularly and eat healthily – Don’t forget to look after your mind and body as well. Good food and regular exercise can help keep you in good shape and healthy. Both can also increase happy hormones in your blood stream.
In the end, being a caregiver isn’t always easy – but the rewards are worthwhile. Just remember that it isn’t just your loved one you are caring for, it’s also you.
What tips do you recommend? Do you need support?
Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.