Caring for the carer
“When the plane goes down, see to your own mask before helping others”
We’ve all heard it, but have we truly listened?
Carving out time in our busy caring lives to ensure we maintain our own mental health and wellbeing is not easy, and it’s a lesson that I learnt the hard way.
I am by no means an expert or trying to lecture.
However, wanted to share some tips I have picked up which help me keep my equilibrium…. or some may say, sanity!
There is a lot to be said for going for a walk. An amount of time out of the house, walking, taking in your surroundings. Listening to music, a podcast or audiobook. Switch off time. Knowing that for that set time everything is someone else’s responsibility (whilst still being on call of course!).
Puzzle books, colouring books, studying, baking, sewing, reading etc
The ability to stop and do something that isn’t directly related to caring responsibilities is acknowledging that you do have an identity outside of the caring role. Even if only for 10 minutes every so often, spending a focused amount of time on the activity allows the mind to be focused elsewhere…and breathe.
I learnt through conversations with a counsellor that you can practise mindfulness anywhere, doing any activity. The act of being mindful, is simply being present. For example, when grabbing a shower, spend the time just being – focus on the smells, sounds, textures. The same can be said when cooking a meal, spend some time not worrying about what medications are due next, or which position a child hasn’t done today, just focus on the smells, sounds and activity of cooking. Be present. Give the mind time to breathe.
Over the last 18 months I have allocated time for my own mental wellbeing 3-4times per week. Short sharp sessions where I am able to let my mind breathe. Some weeks I find I need to do more than others.
The pressures, stresses, strains and role of caring can be like riding a roller-coaster at times. But we must never lose sight of ourselves, our equilibrium, why we do the caring role!
We cannot care for others, if we don’t look after ourselves first.