Although looking after someone can be rewarding and give people a sense of purpose, it can also be very draining on your own mental wellbeing, and energy for living. It is important to find time to relax yourself, in order to continue to have the strength and head-space to support the other person. Regular appointments, such as going to the hairdressers, or having a massage, can be a good structure for this. Or arranging to meet a friend for a drink – even if just for a short period of time.
However, it is not always possible to find time to do this, or to be able to leave the house easily. There are quite a few websites designed to encourage people to take more time in a busy day and sit for a few minutes to relax. As these websites say, even taking 10 minutes to focus on relaxing can have a hugely beneficial impact on your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. You might find it possible to make this into a routine.
http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts (you may need to scroll down the page a little).
The mindfulness podcast is perhaps a good starter: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/mindfulness-10-minute/?view=Standard.
These guides are more specific on particular difficulties, and may not all feel relevant. However, the ‘anxiety control training audio guide’ is perhaps a good starter for a relaxation session, which only takes 6 minutes. You may also find the ‘overcoming sleep problems’ audio quite useful. These have been done by NHS professionals: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/moodzone-mental-wellbeing-audio-guides.aspx
This page talks in more detail about looking after yourself as a carer generally, including ensuring you eat well and look after your own health – two things which are very easy to forget: http://www.nhs.uk/carersdirect/yourself/Pages/Yourownwellbeinghome.aspx
You may not always find these podcasts helpful, and there are other ways of taking time out. It may be that a 20 minute walk, or watching a well-loved TV programme for 20 minutes is more beneficial for you. The important bit is to find some time each day for some ‘escapism’.
8 July 2014