You can neglect their own health and wellbeing when you are busy caring and thinking about the person you care for.
Often carers have little free time and therefore stop doing things that they enjoy. Eating well and exercising can also fall by the wayside.
However, it’s essential that you look after your own health, both physical and emotional, and to build in time for yourself. Doing activities that you enjoy and that are fun can make it easier to cope when things are difficult.
Most people feel better if they eat well and exercise.
But sometimes these things are not easy to fit in. Think about the best time to fit this in and then try to get into the habit of doing it. It’s easy to drop the things you do for yourself when you are putting others’ needs before your own so give the same importance to the things that you would like to do.
There are lots of websites that offer useful ideas and information for carers:
- NHS Choices has a section on fitness, tutorials and workouts you can do at home. There are simple exercises for older people and people with reduced mobility; yoga, dance, walking and much more.
- Healthy eating on NHS Choices.
- Coping with tiredness and fatigue on NHS Choices.
For unpaid carers who cannot get to the gym, there is an excellent set of new inclusive activity and wellbeing videos from Carers UK.
Featuring real carers with professional instructors, they have been specially designed for all abilities and for those who would prefer to be active at home.
How stress affects us and the need to look after our own mental health is becoming more widely recognised.
It’s not easy to cope with anxiety, low mood and feeling overwhelmed but there are some steps you can take to reduce stress and help you feel more in control. Here are some things that might help:
- Coping with stress, anxiety and depression on NHS Choices.
Talking about how you feel could really help you manage any difficult feelings and sharing problems can lighten the load.
The local NHS Wellbeing service offers free courses, groups and one-to-one support to people experiencing stress, low mood and anxiety:
Conversation, companionship and emotional support can help you cope with the sense of loneliness and isolation that you might feel as a result of your caring role.
- Befriending Service (ageuk.org.uk) (South Glos)
- Befriending – Changes Bristol telephone support specifically around mental health (Bristol)
- Befriending Service – Womankind Bristol offering three Befriending Services to women across Bristol & South Glos around mental health issues, isolation and sexual violence (Bristol)
- Befriending Service – Reengage telephone befriending service for LGBT+ aged 75 years + to break isolation & loneliness
- Befriending and social inclusion – WECIL – Supporting Independent Living for disabled adults (18+) with a long-term condition to be teamed up with a telefriender (Bristol & South Gloucestershire)
- Check-in & Chat – BS3 Community Telephone Befriending Service for people living in the BS3 area of Bristol only (Southville/Bedminster) who are feeling lonely, isolated or cannot go out
Taking some time out from caring
Taking any time out to do something you enjoy is a good start, whether that’s going for a walk, reading or meeting up with a friend. If you can try to build this into your routine and get into the habit of doing it, that may help you keep to it.
Meditation and mindfulness are becoming more popular and relaxing therapies like massage can be a good way to take some time out. These kinds of things can be expensive, but you can use your Carers Emergency Card to get discounts from local therapists.
Some local colleges also offer reduced cost therapies:
- Bristol college of massage and bodywork offers reduced cost treatments with a student
- hair, beauty therapy or massage at local colleges in their student salons at reduced rates:
You could try a meditation or mindfulness course or class. There are various options locally.
- try the Wellbeing college for courses around wellbeing including mindfulness. In Bristol and in South Gloucestershire.
- Wellspring healthy living centre offers low cost health fitness and wellbeing classes in Bristol.
- you may be able to get some funding through a Carers Assessment to pay for a therapeutic or health related activity.
Walk and Talk
Our friendly support worker leads group walks offering a listening ear and providing support to help carers in your caring role.
Further help and advice
Find out more about how you can look after your own health and wellbeing:
- Taking care of yourself from Carers UK
- Health-related information on One You NHS site
- Staying healthy from South Gloucestershire Council
If it’s hard for you to get out, there are various free on-line courses for carers collated by Carers Trust.
Page last updated 12.04.23