Have you ever paused and wondered how much time you spend taking care of yourself? The Mental Health Foundation revealed that 71% of carers experience poor physical or mental health. While it’s a huge responsibility to look after your loved one’s well-being, it’s also important that you give equal importance to your own mental and physical health.
You can support yourself, as well as the person you look after, through mindfulness practices. This will encourage you to improve your mental health and well-being by managing your thoughts, emotions, and body. Here are some steps that can help you to feel calmer, more grounded, and more able to manage stress and emotional difficulty.
Practise Deep Breathing
Pause and relax by taking slow, deep breaths. BBC points out that quick, shallow, and unfocused breathing can foster anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. But when you’re aware of your own breathing, you’ll induce a relaxing sensation both in the brain and the body.
Whenever you feel stressed or tense, you can calm yourself down by focusing on your breath. Start by inhaling slowly through your nose until you can feel your chest and your belly rising. Afterwards, take your time as you exhale the air through your mouth. Repeat this short and simple process until you’re good to go!
Make Yourself Comfortable While Caring for Others
You are on your feet most of the day to carry out tasks and properly cater to your loved one. You also need to exert a lot of physical strength to assist an elderly parent or push a wheelchair. It’s no surprise that after a long hard day, carers like you feel a lot of aches and pains all over your bodies.
With the right tools, you can relieve pain and feel comfortable while caring for others. For instance, you can rest on an ergonomic chair while guarding a resting loved one or feeding them during mealtime. According to Pain Free Working, these chairs can reduce physical pain and lessen the risk of getting injured, since you will need to be in good shape to care for others. Furthermore, a good pair of shoes can provide you support while you’re working on your feet. There are lots of trainers that are designed for comfort, such as this one from Nike. Products like these will soothe your body and prevent pain while you’re looking after others, at the same time!
Focus on One Task at a Time
Carers handle a huge responsibility, and this may make you feel overwhelmed and stressed with your tasks. You may feel inclined to multi-task so you can finish everything quickly. But a distracted and rushed mind will only diminish the quality of the support you can potentially give.
You can gain better control over your tasks by being mindful of your actions. To achieve this, you need to give your full attention to one task at a time! You can also create a schedule so that you can properly allocate your time to each activity.
Dedicate Time for Self-Care
You may feel inclined to focus all of your energy on others and forget to allocate time for the things you enjoy. Though caring is rewarding, we at Harrow Carers believe that you will feel most fulfilled when you have also taken enough time to care for yourself.
Self-care can be anything from taking a long, relaxing bath at night or getting a massage. It can also be just taking a few minutes of your day to read a book or knit! Just simply make time for at least one thing that brings you joy.
The practice of mindfulness teaches people to manage their stress by focusing on what they can sense and control in the present moment. Through these four practices, you can give yourself the love and support that you deserve.
Specially written for harrowcarers.org by Bridget Jennings