How to Care For Yourself When You Are a Carer

Posted on: 19/12/2022

There’s a saying – “you can’t pour from an empty cup” – that really illustrates just how important it is to look after your own health and wellbeing, to allow you to provide the best care for your loved one.

But we also understand how difficult this can be when you dedicate so much of your time to supporting your loved one.

In this article, we have included some helpful tips and advice that we hope you will be able to use to ensure you are also looking after yourself.

Look after your physical wellbeing

Activities that improve your physical wellbeing can also contribute to better mental wellbeing, so working on both is important.

Here are some things that you can do to improve your physical wellbeing:

  • Eat a balanced diet. In order to support your loved one, you need good amounts of energy. We know it can be hard to stick to a “strict” healthy diet but try to limit the bad stuff (or at least enjoy it in moderation) and ensure you’re getting a good balance of the different food groups to keep your energy levels up.
  • Get plenty of sleep. If you struggle with sleep, there are some things you might like to consider to help you get a better night’s sleep. Limit caffeine after 2pm and try not to eat a lot of sugary foods in the later afternoon/evening. Look at ways in which you can wind down and relax before bedtime, such as taking a warm, relaxing bath or doing a short meditation session. Make sure your sleeping environment is conducive to sleep – consider black out blinds, soothing music, or even earplugs.
  • Pick a type of exercise that you enjoy, it could be as simple as taking a walk around the block and aim to do it a couple of times a week. If you can, the more exercise and the more varied the exercises, the better it will be for you.

Look after your mental wellbeing

Often, caring for a loved can take a huge toll on your mental and emotional health, not least because you are constantly worrying about how they are doing.

That’s why it’s important to do the things you can to support your mental wellbeing. Here are some things for you to consider:

  • Take time for yourself. Often, we are so caught up in the busyness of the day and caring for others that we forget to take time for ourselves and do the things that make us happy. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and try to do at least one a day. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup.
  • Spend time with other loved ones. As well as taking time for yourself, make sure you are also spending quality time with other loved ones. That could be a coffee date with your friends or simple watching a movie at home with your children. Whatever it is, it’s important to keep as social as you are able to.
  • Speak to a professional. If you are struggling with the demands of caring, it’s important to seek help and advice. Speaking to friends and family can be helpful, but sometimes it can also be helpful to speak to someone external from your situation, such as a counsellor. They can help suggest strategies for managing relationships and communicating, as well as offer advice on how you can balance your role as a carer with caring for your own needs.
  • Consider respite services. These services are available to allow you to take a short break from caring for your loved one, so that you can recuperate. Options range from having a volunteer sit with your loved one for a few hours a day, to your loved one having a short stay in a care home. Click here to find out more about respite services. 
  • Consider additional help. Sometimes, you may need additional help to care for your loved one. This could be an additional carer or it could be assistive technology that allows you to keep your loved one safe, even when you can’t be with them. At Progress Lifeline, we offer simple products that will allow your loved one to alert our alarm response centre, if they need help. This means that they can remain safe and independent, whilst also giving you peace of mind.

The key takeaway is that you can’t provide the best care and support for your loved one if you aren’t caring for and looking after yourself – use the tips and advice in this article to ensure you are.

If you are also interested in how assistive technology can help your loved one to remain safe and independent when you can’t be with them, click here to learn more about the options available to you.