How to cope with being a carer

How to cope with being a carer


Tue 13 October

Here at Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity we are proud of the support we give to people living with a brain tumour in Yorkshire and their carers.

Caring can be overpowering, a feeling that may have been intensified due to all the COVID-19 restrictions. Today we want to shine a light on the carers in our community and provide some practical tips for how to cope if you’re finding caring particularly difficult at the moment.

 

Providing full or part-time care for dependents, especially close family members, comes with a complicated array of emotions and it’s important that carers look after themselves as well. Below are some tips to help.
 

How to look after your mental and physical help as a carer

 

Acknowledge your guilt and forgive yourself for it

 

Before you’re able to prioritise your mental and physical health, you need to let go of the guilt you inevitably feel for putting yourself before the person you’re caring for.

 

Caregiver guilt is real and can rear its head at any point. The main thing to remember is that it’s normal and ok. It’s ok to feel angry about what you’re giving up, blame yourself for putting your feelings first and neglectful of relationships outside of your dependent.

 

These are all valid and normal ways to feel. The most important thing is that you recognise the feelings, talk about them if you feel you can (our out of hours support line provides an impartial voice to talk to if you need it) and forgive yourself – remember you’re doing great.
 

 

Get enough sleep

 

Lack of sleep is bad for your health. NHS England states that one in three of us suffers from poor sleep, and this is more likely to be the case for people struggling with stress. Prioritising sleep may seem like an impossible feat, but there are things you can do to encourage your body to shut down at night. These include:

 

  • Getting complete darkness
  • Having a tidy room
  • Avoiding certain foods and drinks
  • Following an evening routine

 

Read our article for more help on how to get a better night’s sleep.
 

Be grateful

 

The benefits of practicing gratitude are wide-ranging from better personal relationships to improved physical health. Gratitude can also help switch your perspective during particularly challenging times as a carer. 

 

Consider starting or ending each day by writing a list of the things you’re grateful for. They don’t need to be big, even a quiet cup of tea on a morning counts. It could also help to think about all the things you’re grateful for about the person you’re caring for and the happy times you’ve shared together.

 

Not only does gratitude give you a mental boost but it can help you identify things that make you feel good, so you can make sure you do more of them in the future.
 

Look after your physical health

 

Eating a varied diet and being active will help you to cope better with day-to-day life as a carer. We’re not talking prioritising weight loss here, just getting a varied diet and adding some movement into your day. Even a ten-minute walk to the shop over jumping in the car can have significant health benefits. 
 

Get help if you need it

 

If your mental health can’t be improved by following some of the tips above it might be time to consider more drastic help. Through Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity you might be able to access free counselling with our qualified counsellor.

 

Our counselling services give access to a professional who will be supportive, practical and non-judgmental and can assist with coping strategies to help you through difficult times. All sessions are completely confidential and are arranged at a time to suit you. To find out more please contact us on 0113 340 0111 or email support@yorksbtc.org.uk.


How to look after the practical aspects of being a carer

 

 

Make sure you're getting the benefits you're entitiled to

 

As a carer there is financial support out there for you. If you’re not currently claiming them, make sure you investigate carer benefits as soon as you can to see what you’re entitled to.

 

Financial struggles can make being a carer even more difficult so anything you can do to ease the burden will help you cope with your situation. If you don’t know where to start, get in touch with us on 0113 340 0111 or support@yorksbtc.org.uk and we can signpost you to the right place.

 

Speak to your employer

 

If you’re balancing caring and working you’re likely to be feeling extremely pressured and your career could be suffering due to you trying – and failing – to balance both of these priorities. 

 

In order to focus on your health and wellbeing, you need to have an honest conversation about your situation with your employer. If they know what you’re going through, they will be able to contextualise any dips in performance as well as give practical support when you need time off. Initiatives like home working and flexible time can be offered to employees who need it. Even if you don’t think this is something your employer offers, you might be surprised to find it is. 

 

Find a community

 

Being a carer can feel lonely and maintaining relationships with friends and family is tough when they don’t understand what you’re going through. 

 

This is why it’s really important to find people who understand what your situation. Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity offers a number of support routes for carers including:

 

  • YBTC Friends Support Line – call 0113 511 8111 to speak to peers who understand what you are living with. Our YBTC friends have been in your position and can help to be a shoulder to cry on, provide advice and have a natter, whatever you want to discuss.
  • YBTC Support Group – our monthly support group is open to people living with a brain tumour in Yorkshire, their families and carers. This is a welcoming, informal and friendly group where you can chat with people going through a similar journey.

 

We hope this helped you understand a bit more about how to cope as a carer. If you need any support, please get in touch with us – we’re here for you.


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