Research has shown that caring can have a significant impact on health, with carers often finding that both their mental and physical health are affected. So, it is vital you take steps to look after yourself and remember, self-care is not being selfish. Self-care is about deliberately doing activities to foster good mental, emotional and physical health.
Let’s take a look at some of the small actions, with big effects, you can add into your daily routine to help keep up your winter spirit.
Building one’s own resilience can help in coping with external events, such as illness of a loved one or a caring crisis presented to you. There are some daily steps you can do, around your caring role, which will help in building your level of resilience. This will in turn help you to show up at your best, no matter what life throws your way.
While we understand that time is at a premium, we believe you can factor in these daily habits to help you thrive:
- Sleep – try to establish a sleep routine or rest when you can
- Exercise – perhaps a half an hour walk in the morning before you start the day
- Meditation – spending 10 minutes a day doing guided mediation.
- Gratitude – keep a gratitude journal making a note of all those good little things which are all too easily forgotten
- Self-compassion – be kind to yourself, for example, try not to be hard on yourself if you don’t do everything on this list. Habits take time to form.
- Connection – stay connected with friends and family. Make that phone call you’ve been meaning to make now.
Keep physically active
We are not suggesting you run the next London Marathon (unless you fancy taking on a monumental challenge!). We are suggesting more gentle activities such as going for a short walk in your local area, do you live near a park? Doing some yoga or Pilates using a book or YouTube tutorials. These are free of charge and will keep you active. For the more adventurous, perhaps the next Marathon is something to aim for…
Managing your mental health
Have you tried keeping a mood diary? This mindful activity will help track what makes you feel better or in fact worse. Once you can see a pattern emerge, you can take steps to avoid or prepare for situations which cause feelings of anxiety. Or, on the plus side, do more of what makes you happy.
Eating a healthy diet
The winter months are an important time of year to keep yourself, and those around you, topped up with nourishment. A balanced diet will help build your immune system, which coupled with your flu vaccine, will keep you in tip top condition. It’s about getting your 5-a-day, a quick tip is to mix in other root vegetables in with your mashed potato. There are so many different dietary options, such as pescatarians, vegetarians or Paleo. So we could not possibly cover all the options, so the best over arching action is to remain well hydrated through water intake, have an intake of essential fatty acids, protein, fat and water soluble vitamins and essential minerals. Researching some recipes to suit your dietary preferences is a great inspiration to try different foods.
While this is a whole topic covered by itself, this just reiterates the importance of staying connected. Whether that is with friends or family or joining a local online book club, it is just about having that sense of feeling connected. This will help guard against feelings of isolation and by talking to others, reduce feelings of anxiety. So, go on, send that text or make that call.
Respite – taking time away from your caring role
Everyone in a caring role needs to take time for themselves and it is not something to feel guilty about. Whether that time out is to join one of our online carer groups or make use of the respite break services, we strongly encourage you to make time for yourself.
Find out more about the respite options available to you.
The importance of play
What with all that is going on in the world right now, it is all too easy to forget about including ‘fun’ into our daily lives. So, the next time you feel like just zoning out on your phone or watching TV, why not suggest getting out a board game, starting an impromptu game of charades or, if you live alone, start an online quiz with friends. Play is not just for children, it is beneficial for people of all ages. So, start a fun revolution next time instead of grabbing for the TV remote, see what happens.