Being a carer can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s important that you look after yourself – both for your own sake and so you can continue to care for others. Carers often feel a wide range of emotions. Try to understand why you feel the way you do and to accept your emotions as a normal reaction to what may be a very difficult situation.
Managing your emotions
Remember that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do. If you have any negative feelings about the people you are supporting or the situation, it does not mean that you’re a bad person. Being aware of your feelings can make it easier to deal with them. For example if you feel frustrated or angry, try to work out why. Are you trying to do too much? Are you not getting the help you need? If you understand why you feel the way you do it will help you make decisions about what is right for you and the individuals you are caring for.
Be realistic and kind to yourself
Remember you can only do so much. Everyone who is a carer will need assistance at some stage. Focus on what you can do and try to accept that you may need help with some things.
Try not to compare yourself or your situation with other carers. You may think they are coping much better than you. However everyone’s situation will be different and everyone faces their own challenges. You may struggle with things other people seem to find easy but they may struggle to do things that you find easy.
Set out your priorities
Carers often need to do many different things at once. This can be difficult to manage and it can leave you feeling exhausted.
As much as you may want to manage everything, it will not always be possible. You can’t do everything on your own. You also won’t be able to please everyone.
Work out which things you really need to do and which are less important. Look for tasks that other people may be able to help you with, to take some pressure off you. Don’t be hard on yourself about the things you can’t manage or feel guilty about asking for help.
Remember the positives
While you will have challenges to deal with, also try to focus on some of the positive things about caring.
Take strength from your commitment and your fondness for the people you care for. Think about your relationships and the fact that you’re helping them enormously, even if they may not always seem to know or appreciate it. It can sometimes be hard to see the positive things you are achieving. Writing things down can help – even small things like a joke you shared with the person you’re caring for.
When you’re having a difficult day, thinking about positive times you’ve shared can remind you that there are still some better times and about the good that you are doing for the person.
Talk to other people
Talking about your emotions is often the first step to understanding and dealing with them. It can also help if you talk to the people around you about your experiences. Tell them what life is like for you and the people you care for. This may help them understand how much you do for the people you are supporting and what help and support you need.
This might help you feel less isolated and stressed. It can also help you put things in perspective. If you don’t talk about your feelings or take time to address them, it is likely to make things worse. This won’t be good for you and it will also have an impact on the people you’re caring for. If you feel like you are struggling, speak to someone as soon as possible.
Talking to and involving your family and friends in your caring role may help you to have breaks and reduce some of your stress. Some carers find that their friends and family members can provide a good range of support.
Asking for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support if you need it. Sometimes people don’t offer help because they don’t know what they can do. Try suggesting specific ways that other people can help. If you’ve previously said you can manage without someone’s help, they may not think to offer again, even when your situation changes. Let people know how valuable their support is and how much it helps you.