how to take care of yourself as a carer

Self-care often goes out the window when your main priority is to look after someone else, but neglecting your own health can make caring harder. Taking time to nurture your physical and mental health will boost your wellbeing and ability to be a carer.

When your focus is on caring for another person, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself.  But the longer you forget to look after yourself, the harder it becomes to support someone else.  

Self-care is an important part of being a carer. Here are some ways you can take care of yourself as one. 

remember the basics 

There’s a reason exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep are talked about so often, and that’s because they make a huge difference to our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. The longer we neglect them for, the harder it becomes to function.  

Caring duties can be a lot harder if you’re not well yourself, which is why it’s just as important to look after yourself as it is the person you’re caring for. 

If you struggle to find time to exercise, remember that some exercise is better than none, even if it’s just a quick 10-minute walk through the park. Being in nature has additional benefits to our wellbeing. 

To ensure you always have healthy meals, try to cook in bulk and freeze the leftovers. That way, on the days you have less time or energy to cook, you’re not tempted to get a ready meal or a takeaway, which can cause your blood sugar to crash later and make you feel worse. 

practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a simple way to calm your mind when you’re feeling stressed.  

A couple of ways you could practice it: 

  • focus on one thing you can see, such as a doorknob, and stare at it 
  • look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste 

lean on your network 

Talking to someone about your emotions can often feel like an emotional weight has been lifted, even if all that person did was listen.  

Caring is a lot of responsibility and can feel overwhelming at times, so remember that it’s ok to cry if you need to. 

Your family and friends are there to support you, even if they don’t fully understand what you’re going through.  

You could send regular email updates, or post on social media, to share with close friends and family what’s happening and ensure everyone gets the same story at the same time. 

You could also connect with other carers online to get advice about your situation, or just find someone to listen. 

talk to your employer 

If you also have a job, talk to your employer about what accommodations they could make.  

This could involve flexible working hours, allowing you to work remotely some or all of the time, or letting you reduce your hours.  

It’s important they understand what’s going on in your life as it will help them to contextualise any changes in behaviour they may see from you, and will help prevent them from putting unnecessary pressure on you. 

spend time on your hobbies and interests 

It can be easy to neglect the hobbies and interests you used to love when you’re focused on caring for someone.  

But even just a couple of hours doing something you enjoy can help you to recharge and boost your mood. 

ask for help 

Asking for help is a strength, and an important part of caring for another person. As much as you may want to, you’ll never be able to do everything. The sooner you ask for help, the less stressful caring will be. 

If the person you’re caring for is reluctant to get other people involved, explain to them the reasons why you need the help and the difference it could make to both of your qualities of life. 

Ask friends and family if they’re able to help you from time to time, too. This can give you the chance to recharge and work on your own hobbies, interests, and career without needing to worry about the person you care for. You don’t know what help is available unless you ask. 

see what other help is available 

There are lots of options available, from respite care to financial help to home adaptations.  

Everyone qualifies for different support, and different councils and charities offer different things. So take your time to do your research and find out what’s available, because it may make a big difference to your life, and the life of the person you care for. 

how caba can help 

Our Support Officers are here to listen and advise, whatever you may be struggling with. We have a range of options available, including counselling, finding out what benefits you qualify for, or making adaptations to your home.  

All our support is free and confidential, so if you’d like to find out more, contact us today.   

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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