As a carer it is so easy to put the needs of the person you are caring for before your own. But as the saying goes you can not pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take care of yourself as well you will be no good to yourself let alone others. You could experience depression or even burn out. Therefore it is very important to look after your own wellbeing when caring for someone. This includes taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing.

Caring for someone can be very stressful, which is why it is imperative that you take care of yourself and practise stress management. Yoga can be so helpful to help with sleep and stress. It is a form of exercise with stretching and poses and breathing that can clear the mind and strengthen the  body. This can be done online in zoom. Therefore you do not have to worry about travelling to a location, especially as this may not be possible with the demands of caring for someone.

Meditation is also great for relaxation and to help de stress. It is also excellent as it is known to help shift anxiety and depression.

Having good mental health and taking care of your own mental health is crucial when caring for someone.

Harrow Carers have a mental health support group, which is also online.

We also hold a  carers tea and coffee zoom group. Support groups are very useful as you meet people who are carers like you, and you can exchange tips and coping strategies. You can talk about your problems and share your experiences with others. It makes you realise that you are not on your own.

If you feel like you need to speak to someone privately and professionally or if your mental and emotional health is suffering, it is important to seek support earlier than later through talking therapy. It is a safe confidential space to get things off your chest and work to finding solutions with someone who is on your side  and who is there to listen. Harrow Carers offer free and affordable counselling sessions for unpaid carers.

Self care is often a term that gets thrown about. Its not just airy fairy. Self care is about you prioritising time for you. It is valuable time spent on taking care of yourself. It could be keeping up with your own dental and medical or hospital appointments. Ensuring that you are looking after your own health as well is important even though you are a carer. To take care of your own wellbeing have a good diet, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Rest when possible.

Do things you enjoy like reading and watching television to relax. Keep active.

Seek support from family members so you can take a break from the caring role sometimes.

Unpaid cares sometimes have paid carers who come in a few days a week, so they can have some time off. This can be helpful to go to visit the bank and do food shopping. Paying a carer may not always be feasible especially with rising cost of living at the moment. Therefore seeking support from a friend or family member can be beneficial once or twice a week so that you can have some time to yourself.

It may be difficult to balance taking care of yourself and  your wellbeing when caring for someone else because of the demanding nature of the caring role. But like stated above if this is not done it can lead to  mental health problems,  poor physical health and possibly burn out.

With support groups and exercise and self care it is possible to take care of your wellbeing when caring for someone, especially when this is made a priority. Harrow Carers is an organisation that is there to support unpaid carers. Please get in contact with us to support your care needs as a carer.

By Natalie Reuben 

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.