Caring can be rewarding but it can also be very tiring, placing demands on your physical and emotional energy. As a Carer you need to be as healthy as possible. When you are simply coping day to day and responding to the needs of others, it’s easy to forget your own health needs.
- Getting out – Continue to enjoy and take part in any activities outside the home as it is important to maintain your own interests.
- Reduce isolation – It can feel isolating when you are caring for someone at home. Keep in contact with friends and if you cannot go out to meet them suggest they come to you for a catch up. Stay in contact with local support services and attend any support groups, days out, training when you can as this will help alleviate any feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Keep Healthy – Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
- Take time for yourself – It is crucial to allow yourself some time for yourself as it will help to recharge your batteries. Use this time for your interests if you can, rather than chores like grocery shopping. You may be able to get some funding to help you do this. Speak to us about our Core Respite Grant which is available to Carers who wish to take some time out to treat themselves.
- Your health is in your hands – Although your life is busy and your attention focused on the health of the person you care for, don’t ignore your own health needs. Try not to miss your own medical appointments; attend regular check-ups and screenings when you are called. As soon as you begin caring, inform your own doctor. If they know you are a Carer and likely to be under pressure at times, they will find it easier to diagnose and treat you in future and offer the advice and support you need.
- Get moving – You may feel tired, but regular, moderate exercise will actually give you more rather than less energy. As a bonus you’ll sleep better too. You may feel you haven’t the time but if you can create just a twenty-minute gap in the day, preferably not just before bedtime, it will be worth it.
The secret of effective exercise is to choose an activity that is right for you – one that you enjoy. Simplest of all is a regular, daily walk – round the block, to the nearest park, or to the shops. The closer to home the exercise is, the easier you will find it to do regularly. West Cork Carers Support Group regularly organise courses aimed at improving Carers health and well being. If you can join a class, you will get the benefits of exercise, company and a chance to switch off from your caring role. If you are tense and worried you will also find exercises such as yoga relaxing. If you can’t get to a class, you can do these exercises at home with a DVD or book. However, it is important not to feel pressured. If you simply haven’t got the time or energy to exercise, or if it’s difficult to leave the person you care for, then do some simple stretching and flexibility exercises at home. Swing your arms, reach above your head, lean to one side then the other from the waist and, for cardiovascular exercise, march on the spot, swinging your arms. Each day, try to stand at an open window or, door and take ten deep breaths. Remember if you have taken no exercise for some time, or are over 50, you should check with your GP before taking up any form of exercise.