Looking after someone is no easy feat. Especially in these times, whether you look after someone in your home, or look after someone from a distance, caring for someone can really take a toll on your own health.
And there is now even a term for it. ‘carer burnout’ or ‘compassion fatigue’ is where carers become physically and emotionally depleted by their caring role. But despite the effect caring can have on a person’s own health, many are unable to simply stop caring. Here we share some great advice from Ideas.Ted on how to tackle carer burnout.
1. Assemble a team
Don’t struggle alone. Although you might be the only one able to look after your loved one, make sure you have people around that can look after you. Make a list of relatives, friends or colleagues that can be there for you when you need it, whether it’s to vent, talk through things you’re worried about or lend a hand with day to day tasks. Many carers look after their loved ones without anyone else knowing, so make sure you let people know the situation so others can look out for you.
Remember you can also call us at Carer Support Dorset on 0800 368 8349 for advice, information or a friendly voice.
2. Take care of yourself
This is easier said than done, but it’s really important to make looking after yourself a priority just like you would for a loved one. Whenever you can, take 5 minutes to do something you love or relaxes you, like reading a book, listening to music or doing some breathing exercises. If you have more time, why not try practicing a new skill or hobby that you can dedicate time to every day.
3. Set boundaries
As much as it’s important to have a life outside of your caring role, and maybe keep doing the things you may have done before you started caring, setting boundaries is incredibly important for your own wellbeing. Say no to any requests from others that may drain you rather than lift you up, explaining to them about your caring role. And don’t feel guilty for letting people know you need some space or time to rest. You could even set times where friends and family know not to call you so you have some dedicated time throughout the day for yourself.
4. Find new ways to connect with the person you look after
When you’re looking after a loved one, it can be hard to break out of the roles of ‘carer’ and ‘cared for’ once you start looking after them. It might be hard to adjust for both of you the new roles you have taken on, and so it’s important you still try and connect with them in a way that you would if you weren’t looking after them. Try starting a new hobby together, like crafting, painting, knitting or even photography. Not only will it help you both connect with each other, having a hobby and a shared love can really enrich both of your lives.
5. Get support – don’t care alone
Many carers don’t realise they are a carer, or know of the support that is available to them. But it’s so important to reach out for help. If you’re not registered with us as a carer, you can do so through our website, or by calling 0800 368 8349. You can also go to our resource centre which has advice on a number of subjects such as carer emergency cards, money and benefits and mental health resources.
You are not alone.