Carers’ Week 2021: Our top mental health tips for carers after the challenges of last yearedit
Over the past year, carers have been front and centre of our fight against the pandemic and have provided vital services, whilst putting their own lives at risk, for individuals up and down the country. To many people, carers are superheroes without capes who not only care for the needs of others but also provide much-needed friendship, human connection, and even social interaction. Without carers, millions of people each year would struggle to function in everyday life.
Carers play a huge role in protecting the wellbeing of others and in doing so, their own mental health can often be forgotten. As a carer, it is easy to get swept up in carrying out your duties and giving all of your effort to improving the lives of those in your care, however, it is important that you give yourself that same level of support and protect your own wellbeing too. To help you to get your mental health back on track, this article will outline our top mental health tips for carers after the challenges of last year.
Make sure that your physical needs are met
This first tip may sound obvious but it is surprising how many carers will forget to meet their daily physical needs when they are wrapped up in caring for others. Physical needs that must be met to ensure good mental health include proper nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise and rest.
If your physical needs are not met, you may become more prone to stress, low mood, fatigue and burnout. To ensure that you are taking care of your physical needs, you should aim to eat your five a day, get around 8 hours of good quality sleep each night, take breaks during long shifts, drink water regularly and try to move your body in a way that feels good each day.
Enjoy some fresh air
Many carers will spend hours inside each day working on wards, in care homes or perhaps in the family home. Getting outside for just 10 minutes each day can have significant benefits on your mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that exposure to fresh air, nature and sunlight helps to increase serotonin levels, which is the ‘happiness’ hormone that may influence your mood. Getting outside and exposing yourself to the sun could help to prevent depression and low mood from developing.
Maintain contact with others
Being a carer is not an easy job. In the UK, around 1.5 million people will provide 50 hours of unpaid care every single week! This care is often given on top of other, paid working hours and can leave carers with very little time to spend on themselves.
For busy carers with little free time, maintaining social connections can be tricky. You may find yourself unable to attend events with your friends, unable to see your family often and you may even find it difficult to navigate romantic relationships.
Human beings are a social species that thrive from relationships with others. Maintaining your relationships with other people is a vital part of your psychological wellbeing and will ensure that you have support during tough times. If you are unable to meet with friends and family in person, try calling a loved one at least once a week to have a chat and share your feelings. Being able to talk with others away from your caring duties will have a fantastic impact on your mental wellbeing.
Spend 30 minutes a day on yourself
It is important to remember that self-care is not selfish! Instead, self-care is an important part of improving your mental health, self-esteem, and quality of life. Self-care doesn’t always have to be extravagant spa days, shopping trips or expensive trips to the nail salon. Self-care is any action or attitude that contributes to your overall well-being and personal health; basically, anything that makes you feel good!
Carers should try to take 30 minutes out of each day and educate that time to perform an act of self-care. You could perhaps have a nice bath, read a book, do a workout, or even watch your favourite TV show. Self-care will look different for everyone but is a great way to improve your mental health and ensure that you can carry out your caring duties with a smile on your face.
Here at Fish, we want Carers to know we appreciate what they do this week and every day. Stay tuned to our social media this week to see us celebrate a different Carer each day!