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.
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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.
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.
Mindfulness is a simple way to calm your mind when you’re feeling stressed.
A couple of ways you could practice it:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Learn how caba can support carers and the people they care for.
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.
We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students.
You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer page.
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.