Your mental health is as important as your physical health
When caring for a family member or friend, you can be vulnerable to mental health issues, such as stress and depression. To learn more, visit Carers UK.
It is important to take time to look after your mental health alongside your physical health as the two are often interlinked.
The “oxygen mask” story will help you understand why this is important:
When you are flying, the air hostess demonstrates the emergency exit plans. They explain that if the oxygen masks drops it is essential that you put on yours first before reaching out to help others. If you don’t you are likely to collapse whilst trying to help.
This is a useful reminder that to help others, it is essential that you take time to care for yourself.
There are many ways you can do this. Many of them have been researched and shown to help maintain or improve a person’s mental wellbeing. So why not give them a go?
We have all become more aware of how much impact loneliness and isolation can have on our mental and physical health. To read more.
For some carers, they might find that they slowly lose contact with others. They feel that others do not understand what being a carer means.
- Make sure your family and friends know that you are caring for someone.
- To help them understand the impact this has on you, share Looking after Someone and Two Sides of the Story by Carers UK.
- Family and friends might not understand but other carers will; so make sure you connect with them. See below.
Connecting with people who understand
Many carers find that it helps to talk to other carers who understand the challenges they are going through.
- Join a group organised by Carers in Bedfordshire. For details of the latest groups.
- Other local charities run support groups for carers. For details, read the Bedfordshire Carers Guide.
Connecting through social media
You might not be able to attend a face-to-face group. This might be due to your caring role or you might be working. The advantage of online groups is that you can access them 24/7. There are several ways to connect to carers online.
- Carers in Bedfordshire Facebook and Parent Carers Facebook.
- Keep in touch with local charities through social media. For details.
- Carers UK Online forum.
- National charities supporting conditions have online forums with areas for carers e.g. Alzheimer’s Society, Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, etc.
- If you are reluctant to use the internet because you are not confident. Then we would recommend that you learn how to use social media as it is a useful resource for carers. To learn more.
As a carer, you can be faced with many challenges that are out of your control. This can be stressful and can affect your wellbeing.
Talking can help improve your mental wellbeing. This might be with a friend or family member, another carer or a professional.
There are people able to listen to you and offer advice if needed.
- Other carers. Join a Carers Group.
- Carers in Bedfordshire Support Workers. For details.
- Other local charities. Visit the Bedfordshire Carers Guide.
You might prefer to talk to a counsellor. You can learn more about the different types of counselling. You can access one through:
- Carers in Bedfordshire Counselling Service.
- Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service.
- Counselling Foundation.
- Relate Counselling.
Other support available
The Samaritans are available to talk to anyone who needs support. They are available 24/7. To learn more.
If you feel that you need urgent support out of hours, contact Bedfordshire’s Mental Health Crisis Team.
It can help to understand the condition of the person you are caring for has.
This can help you recognise that it is not personal when the person you care for does something that upsets or challenges you.
It can help you feel more confident when discussing the issues faced with health professionals.
As a carer you might experience difficult emotions, such as anger, frustration, sadness, grief, hopelessness, etc.
It can help to find a strategy that helps you deal with these emotions positively. For ideas. [Coming soon]
It is very easy to get into a cycle of worrying. Yvonne Newbold, author of Special Parent recommends instead of calling it worrying, call it planning and then plan like crazy. This is good advice for all carers. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Plan a routine.
- Keep records of the person you care for condition and their treatment.
- Keep your financial information organised. This makes the information easier to access for benefits and care assessments.
- Create an emergency plan. To learn more.
We don’t necessarily want to hear this but research has shown repeatedly that looking after your physical health also helps your mental health.
It is very important that you take the time to find ways to look after your physical health. This is important as carers are more likely to develop long term health conditions. For ideas.
There are many strategies available to help you maintain and improve your mental wellbeing. Try to find the ones you think will work for you. You might help it useful to talk through these with a counsellor at Carers in Bedfordshire.
- Create a Wellbeing Action Plan.
- Identify the positives of caring. Read what other carers think.
- Follow the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.
- Relaxation Therapy at Carers in Bedfordshire.
Ideas from other organisations