Meeting your Fundamental Needs as Carer: prioritising sleep, nutrition, hydration, sunlight and exercise.
In this blog, our friends at PMAC talk about how carers can avoid and cope with low moods.
In the demanding role of a carer, it can be easy to neglect your own needs. It’s important to look after your own health and wellbeing – doing so is beneficial for you, and also for those you care for. Ensuring that you meet your fundamental needs – sleep, nutrition, hydration, sunlight, and exercise – can significantly help manage a low mood.
Prioritising sleep is essential as it directly affects your mental and emotional health. Lack of sleep can significantly worsen feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Establishing a regular sleep routine that involves going to bed and waking up at the same times each day can help. Create a calm and quiet sleep environment and consider relaxation exercises before bedtime.
When it comes to nutrition, a balanced diet is key to keeping yourself well. Consuming foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (e.g., blueberries, broccoli, spinach, apples, etc.) can boost your mood and energy levels.
“Remember that as a carer, your wellbeing matters too.“
Hydration also plays an essential role in maintaining your overall health. Not only does it help with digestion, but it also helps you concentrate and keeps your brain functioning optimally.
Getting regular exposure to sunlight is another essential factor to consider. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, which can aid in uplifting your mood. Try to spend some time outdoors each day, whether for a walk in the park or simply basking in your garden.
Last but not least, regular exercise is a powerful mood booster. You don’t need to run a marathon or engage in intense workouts. Activities including walking, gardening, or yoga can do wonders to uplift your mood. Exercising can trigger the release of endorphins, what’s known as the body’s feel-good chemicals, which can reduce feelings of stress and depression.
Remember that as a carer, your wellbeing matters too. Prioritising these fundamental needs is not an act of selfishness, but an essential part of providing the best care possible. By keeping yourself healthy and content, you’ll be more equipped to support others.
Journalling for low mood as a carer
Journalling – writing your thoughts and feelings down – can be a powerful tool for managing low mood, especially for those caring for others. When immersed in a caring role, it’s easy to neglect our own mental wellbeing. Journalling can offer a private, non-judgemental space for you to safely express your emotions and concerns, helping to alleviate the burden of low mood.
To get started, all you will need is a notebook or a digital diary. There’s no right or wrong way to journal – what matters is creating a routine that works for you. You may find that you prefer to write in the morning when your mind is fresh, or perhaps in the evening as a way to unwind from the day’s challenges.
“… a valuable ally in your pursuit to manage low mood as a carer”
But what do you write about? People often start by expressing how you’re feeling. Are you anxious, overwhelmed, tired? Acknowledging your feelings can be a liberating first step towards managing them. You could possibly find it helpful to write about your daily experiences as a carer. For example, the challenges you face, and the successes you’ve had, however small they might seem.
Journalling also allows for self-reflection. When looking back on your entries, you can start to recognise patterns in your mood and identify triggers for low mood. By recognising these patterns, you can begin to get a better understanding of your emotional forescast. This can help you implement changes that support your wellbeing.
Lastly, remember that journalling is for you and you alone. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or making your entries ‘readable’. It’s a space for you to be honest and unfiltered. It’s often through this honesty that people can find clarity, resilience, and a way forward in managing our mental health.
So, why not grab a pen, or open a new document on your computer, and start your journalling journey today? It may prove to be a valuable ally in your pursuit to manage low mood as a carer.
Pleasant Activity Scheduling for carers
Taking care of others, whilst a fulfilling task, can be quite taxing – often leading to a dip in mood or sometimes even burnout. This is why at PMAC, we highly recommend the practice of ‘Pleasant Activity Scheduling’. This tool has proven to be exceptionally beneficial in maintaining mental well-being.
Pleasant Activity Scheduling is an evidence-based technique, primarily used in cognitive behavioural therapy. It involves proactively scheduling time for activities that bring joy, relaxation, and satisfaction. This technique is not just about taking a break but about consciously devoting time to things that nourish your emotional well-being.
In essence, it’s an exercise of self-care, a reminder to pay attention to your own needs amidst the rush of caring for others. It could be as simple as reading a book, taking a walk in the park, practicing yoga, or even savouring a cup of tea in solitude. The key is consistency and making it a part of your routine.
“… it’s essential to remember that caring for yourself is not a luxury but a necessity”
We understand that as a carer, your schedule might already be packed. However, it’s essential to remember that caring for yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. It’s similar to the safety briefing on flights – you need to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.
We at PMAC are happy to assist you in integrating this practice into your daily routine. With proper planning and realignment of priorities, this pleasant activity scheduling can become a healthy habit. Not only can it alleviate instances of low mood, but it can also increase resilience, enhance job satisfaction, and improve overall mental health.
It’s time to prioritise your well-being. After all, a happier carer can provide better care. Remember, even the smallest steps towards self-care can make a significant difference. So why not start scheduling your ‘pleasant activities’ today?
PMAC is a UK based organisation of mental health and wellbeing trainers providing workplace training to businesses in the UK, helping to create a healthier and more productive working environment.