5 Tips By Carers For Carers

Caring can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. It can strengthen your relationship as you demonstrate your love and commitment but it is also demanding, both physically and emotionally. If you have been caring for someone for some time, you may feel exhausted. You might feel guilty making time for yourself. However, looking after your wellbeing can help relieve the stress and exhaustion of caring for your loved one and reduce feelings of frustration and isolation. It also can make you an even better carer!

1. Make time for yourself

You are very important! Make time each day for you, even if it is just ten minutes. You don’t need to leave the house; have a nap, read the paper or try some mindfulness exercises. We've put together 5 simple mindfulness exercises to get you started. Alternatively, you can read Mindfulness for Carers: How to Manage the Demands of Caregiving While Finding a Place for Yourself by Cheryl Rezek for an easy introduction to the practice of mindfulness.

 

2. Eat Well

It is important to care for your body. Time is a valuable resource when caring and it can be easy to skip meals as you simply don’t have time or feel hungry, or to grab food on the go. Try and cook healthy meals you can prepare in advance and freeze them for those days when you just don’t have time. Browse our cancer cookbooks for inspiration or read our free guide: Living with Cancer: a Guide for Carers for some more tips (including one from Karen Martin, of the Carers Trust for Scotland).

 

3. Exercise

By exercising, not only are you taking care of your own physical wellbeing, but it will also make you a stronger carer. You may also be able to include the person you support in your exercise routine, whether it’s stretching or strengthening exercises or activities like gardening or going for a walk. Browse our exercising with cancer section for some hand-picked ideas that you can do together.

 

4. Make A Plan

No two days are the same when caring. It may not be possible to do everything you want or need to do. Planning your time by prioritising weekly tasks and activities will help. Knowing what to bring to hospital appointments and preparing in advance can be particularly useful. Don't forget your free 'What to Bring to Chemo' checklist!

 

5. Get Support

Remember to ask friends and family for help. Judith said,  “When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, people were very supportive, but as the illness has continued people have gotten used to it and forget I still need help.” Don’t be afraid to nudge and ask people again!

Let your GP know of your caring role so they can make sure you stay healthy. They can also put you in touch with other organisations that may be able to help. For more information, read our article on getting the most out of your doctor's visit.

You are legally entitled to an assessment of your needs as a carer by your local council. This gives you the chance to talk about the impact of being a carer on your life and what might make things easier for you. For information on how to apply, visit the NHS site to assess your care and support needs or speak to your nearest Carer’s Centre for help applying. You can find your nearest here.

 

Remember 

You are not alone, three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives. Carers UK estimates there are over 2.6 million carers in the UK. 

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has a network of 144 Carers’ Centres across the UK, offering advice, information and support, as well as online support forums for carers and young carers.

 

Further reading:

We've curated a range of tips and products to make caring for someone with cancer a little bit easier. They've all been hand-picked by our community, and cover a wide range of areas including Recipes, Treatment PlanningMindfulness, Showering, Mobility and many others.

You can also read our free guide to caring for someone with cancer.

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