Caring can be a rewarding experience, but it can also take a mental and physical toll. To continue providing care to their loved ones, it’s vital that carers stays healthy. But when you’re looking after someone else, it’s easy to forget your own health needs. Sure, there may be times where it’s difficult to think about anything else, and sometimes carers may feel they aren’t doing enough. But you are human too. It’s important to think about your own health and well-being .
Being healthy is not only vital for you, but it is also beneficial to the person you care for. If you have a good sleep schedule, you will have more patience and energy. If you have access to more financial or emotional support, you will be in a better position to support the people you are looking after.
Here are five tips to help improve your health and well-being, especially if your caring responsibilities are physically and emotionally draining you out.
Making Time for Regular Exercise
It can be difficult to find the time when you have caring responsibilities. You may be worn out, but taking some time out to exercise can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. Think about a good time to fit this in, and give your own needs the same importance as others.
A simple stroll in the park can help declutter your mind and keep your joints healthy. Consider joining a virtual exercise class if you prefer to exercise with others. The NHS have a great resource about fitness, tutorials and exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Consider doing exercises with the person you support, if appropriate.
Having a Healthy Diet
It can be difficult to maintain your caring responsibilities if you don’t have the right nutrition to fuel your day. It can be easy to forget while caring, and it’s much easier to snack on processed foods when you feel there isn’t enough time. Try and eat a varied diet of fruits and vegetables, as well as having healthy protein in each meal. Try not to let stress or boredom lead to over-indulging on snacks.
Here are a few healthy-eating tips to try:
– Having a healthy breakfast each day. It’s a great way to start the day with some fibre, and it will help you stay away on unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
– Adding more fruits and vegetables. The NHS guideline recommends at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
– Staying hydrated. Water regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints and gives you energy throughout the day. Most adults need around 2 to 2.5 litres of fluid a day.
Receiving additional support
It’s perfectly fine in asking for help when you need it. If you’ve sustained physical injuries from lifting the person you cared for, consider asking your GP to refer you to a physiotherapist. You may also be entitled to additional benefits as a carer that you may not be aware of. Give us a call at 020 8868 5224 if you’re unsure, as you may be missing out on financial support.
You don’t need to feel guilty about accepting help. Remember that there is only so much you can do – try to accept that sometimes you may need help.
Taking Care of Yourself
Although caring is rewarding, it’s often extremely exhausting and can leave you with little time to yourself. It’s important you still make time for any interests and the things you love to do. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day – taking the time to care for yourself can go a long way. You are human too, after all. It could be reading a book, taking a hot bath, doing some gardening – whatever you fancy.
Staying connected with others
Keeping in contact with your friends and family can be a great way to let off steam. You can talk about your emotions and what you’re going through. If you don’t feel like talking, you could try reading books together, attending a pottery class, or playing games online.
You can also attend our group workshops at Harrow Carers. Our workshops provide an opportunity to meet other carers and share experiences. Remember that you aren’t alone and we’re here to help. Finding others in similar situations can be extremely rewarding and can help you both physically and emotionally. They’re likely to have gone through the same experiences as you – it’s a chance to let off steam, share frustrations or seek some advice.
Being an effective carer is difficult if you ignore your own health, as you may lose the ability to cope over time. Life is really challenging right now, but we’re always here to help. If you are a carer and require extra support, feel free to call us at 020 8868 5224.
Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. Contact Working for Carers on 020 8868 5224 Ext 218/208.