Carers often neglect their own health and wellbeing as they are busy caring and thinking about the person they 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 way side.
However, it’s really important 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.
Talking about how you feel could really help you manage any difficult feelings and sharing problems can lighten the load.
You can find more on how carers can look after their 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
I know I should exercise more, but where do I find the time to go to a gym or exercise class?
I often feel anxious and overwhelmed. How can I manage these feelings?
I really need to relax and take some time out. Any ideas?
How can Carers Support Centre help with my wellbeing?
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:
In Bristol the Everyone Active discount card is a free card for customers eligible for concessionary rates. The card saves you money at all Everyone Active centres and pools in Bristol. If you get Carers Allowance and certain other benefits or are over 60 you can get a card. See the councils website for a full list of everyone who can get a card and for more details.
If you do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, live in South Gloucestershire and are aged 14 or above, you can get eight free activity sessions with Sports Pound.
- NHS Choices has a section on fitness, tutorials and work outs 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.
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.
The local NHS Wellbeing service offers free courses, groups and one-to-one support to people experiencing stress, low mood and anxiety:
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 in to 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 complementary therapies in Bristol.
- you may be able to get some funding through a Carers Assessment to pay for a therapeutic or health related activity.
We know from what carers tell us, that attending activities at Carers Support Centre can provide a chance to relax and learn ways of looking after yourself.
- our workshops and short courses provide an opportunity to find out information and meet with other carers, as well as share experiences and swap tips.
- our support groups for carers are a good place to meet other carers and share feelings and experiences. Some groups provide a place to meet and talk, often with a speaker. Other groups are based around activities such as crafting, reading and sharing books or social outings.
If it’s hard for you to get out, there are various free on-line courses for carers collated by Carers Trust.