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Taking care of your mental health as a Carer on World Mental Health Day

Being a Carer means there’s a lot to think about, from making sure a loved one’s care plan is up to date and working, to ensuring they’re taking the right medication. It doesn’t always leave a lot of time for Carers to focus on themselves, which can have a negative impact on their mental health.

The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day, and an ideal opportunity to examine ways Carers can access support and help that will not only ease their mental load a little, it will also ensure their loved ones keep their spirits up too.

1. Talk to a professional

They say a problem shared is a problem halved and there is a wide network of professionals that are trained to listen without judging and, where possible, offer potential solutions.

Your GP is a good place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day responsibilities you face as a Carer. However, to get the best help, it’s important to:

  • Be honest and open about your emotions
  • Don’t belittle any issues you’re facing
  • Use words and phrases that feel natural

Your GP could send you to a counsellor, creating an outlet for you to express your feelings or explore any concerns you have as a Carer.

Alternatively, there are helplines staffed by trained operatives who can also offer a friendly, sympathetic ear, allowing you to vent any frustrations without judgement and offer advice on how to cope with any issues.

Talking about how you feel gives Carers a means to blow off steam, easing the mental load and allowing them to refocus on their loved one’s care with a clearer perspective.

2. Use your local support network

Many Carers are surrounded by a collection of people or groups they know they can call on if they need a break or want an extra pair of hands. Whether that’s family, close friends, members of a local support group or organisations like us, it’s important to draw on these resources, especially if things are getting a little overwhelming, so you stay mentally well.

Carers who perhaps don’t have relatives living nearby should head to Carers Trust, which has an online search tool that can locate support services close to them.

Reaching out to fellow Carers will:

  • Allow Carers to share experiences
  • Offer a safe space where your experiences are understood
  • Enable you to offer and receive support

Being able to talk to people in a similar position will make you less likely to feel isolated and alone, offering a boost for your mental health.

3. Use technology

Not every Carer finds today’s digital technology easy to use, but there are lots of resources that can give your mental health a boost and help keep you and your loved ones in good spirits.

Whether you’re caring for an elderly relative with dementia, or a person with physical disabilities, there are a range of easy-to-use apps and digital, connected solutions that can both support your care plan and improve loved ones’ daily lives. Technology can:

  • Help with medication management
  • Reduce unplanned hospitalisations
  • Boost your loved ones’ independence

4. Make time to get away from it all

Being a Carer is usually a full-time job and one of the best ways to recharge your batteries and boost your mental health is to regularly arrange a few days away.

Call on your family and close friends to make sure they fully understand and can cope with the care plan, then try to unplug completely from your day-to-day responsibilities. When you come back, you’ll be physically and mentally refreshed and have a few stories to pass on to your loved one.

5. Remember to enjoy your loved one’s company

It can be easy to get bogged down in the work of a Carer, which can be challenging and feel relentless. Try to ensure your care plan includes quality time with the person you’re caring for, whether it’s an afternoon chat over a cup of tea or taking a stroll in the local park.

It’s important that their medical and physical needs are taken care of, but being able to share a laugh or enjoy an hour or two in the fresh air will give you and your loved one a mental health boost – as well as memories to treasure.

6. Seek financial support

Looking after the needs of your relative can sometimes be costly, and add to a Carer’s mental health burden. There are help and benefits available, and contacting Citizens Advice can be a good way to navigate the paperwork maze and find out what you’re entitled to.

Knowing Carers can tap into some financial support can take a big weight off your shoulders and ease the mental health load, putting you in a better position to focus on taking the best care of your loved one.

If you need support organising GP or hospital appointments, respite care, day-to-day companionship, advice or guidance with important documents, our team is available seven days a week, 12 hours per day.

Call us on 01778 219639 or 07930 125081, or fill in the contact form here and we’ll do all we can to help.

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