Being responsible for the care of a relative can be rewarding, but it can be demanding and feel overwhelming. Life as a family carer is not easy and it can become particularly challenging when you have a lot of different things to juggle, leaving you feeling stressed and alone. Such stress can be physically and mentally demanding, putting strain on not only you but also the rest of your family. Read on to discover six ways that you can use to help you look after yourself to help you cope as a family carer.
1. Be Open and Talk
Talking is one of the best ways to reduce stress and alleviate worries. Talk to your partner, friends or parents. If it is possible, discuss your worries with the family member that you are caring for. Many carers feel that it is their responsibility to handle everything and feel that talking to their loved one is admitting failure and so won't consider talking to them about getting extra help, even if the individual being cared for accepts it. But talking is essential and should not be overlooked.
2. Manage Tasks With Lists
Lists can be a great way of showing you just how many things you have to handle. You might be surprised. To help yourself, make a list of all the things you have to juggle on a weekly or daily basis. Consider work commitments, family life, friends, caring for your relative. Once you've made this list, ask yourself whether they are all necessary, and decide whether they all need to be done immediately. Give them each a time scale, and then think of removing any tasks that you don't have to do. For tasks that must be done, why not ask someone else to help? Can your partner take the children to their swimming lesson tonight? Can your friend take cook you some meals? Even the smallest helping hand can really make a difference to your stress levels. Carers UK created their Jointly app for families to better manage and coordinate care- why not take a look and see if it could help you?
3. Consult Your GP
As well as considering self-help options, it is always a good idea to tell your GP that you are a carer and to ask them about what other help is available. They should have lots of advice specifically tailored to you, and which could help you to cope both physically and mentally as a family carer. GP's are there to help you stay fit and well, make use of them and the support and advice that they offer.
4. Take Advantage of Respite Care
If talking with loved ones leads to discussions about getting some extra help then go with it. It can be tricky to accept help but just think about what getting extra help could mean for you and your family. Perhaps you could spend more time relaxing or doing things with your loved ones, such as taking trips out of the home or watching TV together. Extra help could also come in the form of respite care. AsNHS choices and Apcalisz.com explain, respite care may be provided by your local authority. Every unpaid family carer, irrespective of financial circumstance, is entitled to a carer's assessment. If you are eligible for financial support, you can ask for a direct payment to hire a carer. This could be a good option in order to allow you to have a rest and recuperate so that you can come back to your family feeling refreshed and ready to help out again.
5. Get Away
Taking a break in a place away from home can be a real breath of fresh air, and help you to feel more human. Breaks don't have to be expensive, far away or for long periods of time. Even a one night stay in a local B&B or at a friends house can make all the difference. The Short Breaks Network could help you too. They offer an assistance and befriending service that could help you and your loved ones to get some time away. Another option if you are caring for a young person or child with complex needs is seeking financial and logistical help from a charity. Together for Short Lives offers lots of practical advice on how you and your loved ones can go away together.
6. Make Time For You
It is easy to forget about giving yourself time to recuperate and to just be you. If a really important part of being you are reading history books or spending time with your partner and children, then make sure you do it. Do not let your responsibilities as a carer take away from your priorities as a person. Great ways to look after yourself include scheduling in time once per week to have a bubble bath or massage, playing sport with friends, or just getting out for an hour to see that film that you have been wanting to see for ages. Looking out for you will help you to feel better and help you to look after your loved ones. With these 6 methods to cope as a family carer in mind, you can start to reduce your stresses and help to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. Most of the methods above don't take long, but will go a long way to make you feel better, and to give you and your family more time together. For now, go and make yourself a cuppa, or better, ask someone else to make one for you, as a hardworking and dedicated family carer, it is the least you deserve! Author BioGuest author, Adam Pike, is the Founder of SuperCarers. SuperCarers helps families in the UK find the best care professionals in their local area, as well as providing the tools needed to easily manage the care. Their belief is that the best care is about more than practicalities. It's about making a real connection between people.