Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but very demanding and exhausting.
It can affect your own health and wellbeing.
It's natural to put the cared for person's needs first, but caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a carer.
It's important that you think about your own health and wellbeing and how this can be affected in your caring role.
The emotional impact of caring can be demanding at times. The high demands on you and your time can leave you feeling out of control.
This can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and your ability to cope with everyday tasks.
Giving all your time and attention to someone else can leave you feeling socially isolated, with no time to think about your own needs and how to meet them.
Looking after yourself (self care)
Caring can be tough, so making time for self care is important.
There are lots of things you can do to make sure you stay well while providing the best care you can.
You may feel too busy to focus on your own health and wellbeing but it is important to stay well and think about if you became unwell, who will provide the necessary care to the person you're caring for.
There are some simple ways to help you stay fit and well:
Eat well Food can have a big impact on your mood and energy levels. Eat healthy, regular meals with as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible, and drink plenty of water.
Rest and sleep Tiredness can lead to low mood and depression. Try to create a regular sleeping pattern. This may need to fit around the care you provide. For example, you may be able to split your sleep around the activity and sleep of the person you care for.
Exercise Physical activity can be a big help as it releases "feel-good" hormones into your system, helping your metabolism and giving you some head space. Even a regular short walk instead of using the car or the bus can make a difference.
Talk to someone about how you're feeling
Sharing your feelings and worries can be difficult.
You may feel like talking is pointless if it can't change anything, or you may not want to "put upon" others.
Talking to a trusted friend, someone who is experiencing something similar, a counsellor or even a stranger can have a positive impact on how you are feeling.
Talking about something that's not related to your caring role can be uplifting too.
You could join a group or an evening class. There are lots of online resources such as forums and social media you could use for support.
There are lots of support groups and organisations available locally that provide counselling services, and can put you in touch with other carers to share your experiences.
Check on your wellbeing
Please think about the statements below:
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?
Do you have the opportunity to take time away from caring, to do the things you enjoy?
Does caring leave you with enough time and energy to get to the shops and other places where you need to go, and to take part in leisure activities that matter to you?
Are you able to spend enough time on other family responsibilities, eg being with your children, your partner, parents or siblings?
Would you like help or information about meeting other carers for mutual support?
If you are struggling to maintain a life outside of your caring role, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) can tell you about carer groups or link you with other carers and support to help you take a break. Contact them on 0191 406 1531.
Your own physical health is important and help is available to make sure you have your own regular health checks.
If you're aged between 40 to 74 years old and without a pre-existing condition, you can get a free NHS health check every five years.
Change4Life South Tyneside can support you with stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol, healthier eating, how to get more exercise and much more.