Carers are truly extraordinary people. They are. Selfless, devoted and utterly dedicated to supporting people. It takes a specific type of person to offer so much of themselves while looking after others.
But even the most extraordinary amongst us – especially those who care for others – require mental health support, and at Abbots Care, support for carers is a cause that we are tirelessly committed to.
Vital to overall health and wellbeing, support for care workers is at the heart of the Abbots Care ethos, and we’re passionate about promoting mental health support for the remarkable people who work tirelessly in support of others.
With mental health support in mind, we’ve compiled a list of practical tips for carers, each geared towards providing help for carers and allowing them to put together a health and wellbeing toolkit of sorts; filled with useful, actionable tips that can be adopted immediately.
Of course, no two carers are the same, and everyone will have different methods of maintaining their wellbeing. Our tips are by no means prescriptive, so it’s hugely important to find what works best for you. You may adopt them all, or you may prefer to pick out a couple and add them to your existing routine. You may even choose to tweak and rework them to your preference!
However you choose to use them, here are our tips for staying mentally healthy whilst working as a carer.
Share Your Feelings
Though rewarding and personally satisfying, being a carer can sometimes be challenging – as the last year-and-a-half has reminded us. As such, it’s easy to become anxious or feel isolated, bottling feelings up, rather than sharing them and alleviating some the weight they carry.
But, as the phrase teaches us, a problem shared is a problem solved, so our first carer mental health support tip is the simplest, and one that can be done in a number of ways.
Share your feelings.
See? Easy. And you don’t have to share everything, or anything you don’t want to. It can be as simple as texting a friend, meeting a family member for a coffee and a chat, or even reaching out to Carers UK.
Don’t carry the burden alone, support for carers is as important as support for service users, so, if you’re feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or exhausted, speak to someone. We promise it’ll make an immediate difference.
Additional Tip: Stay Connected
Of course, sharing your feelings is contingent on staying connected to others, which can be challenging; especially when considering the often frantic pace of everyday life. It’s here than maintaining connections with friends and family is crucial.
Our friends and family can make us feel included and cared for, whilst offering differing viewpoints from our own; something which can be essential in gaining, or indeed maintaining, perspective in the face of potentially overwhelming situations. Indeed, who amongst us hasn’t has their perception of an issue – small or large – changed by a simple coffee and chat with a close friend of family member?
Next on our list of mental health support tips for care workers, but by no means of lesser importance is staying organised.
Life can be chaotic. And, as such, it can be easy to lose track of tasks which can lead to anxiety and have a negative impact on a carer’s mental wellbeing.
Fortunately, it’s never been easier to stay organised; whether you’re tech-savvy and use organization and scheduling apps or prefer tried-and-true methods of notebooks and diaries.
A key factor in mental health support, honing organizational skills leads to a greater sense of control, thereby reducing anxiety and helping you feel more in control.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to organization either, so be sure to find what works best for you.
Don’t Place Too Much Pressure on Yourself
Being a carer is more than a vocation; it’s a calling. But often coupled with the drive to support others – and the innate pressures of doing so – is a degree of pressure placed upon you by yourself.
So, in our bid to provide mental health and wellbeing help for carers, we simply say:
Don’t place too much pressure on yourself!
Taking on too much can lead to burn out, which can have a severely negative impact on your mental health. Carers are superhuman, that we know, but even the toughest amongst us can become overwhelmed.
Be realistic about what you can handle, and never be afraid to ask for assistance. Support for carers is essential to mental – and physical – wellbeing and shouldn’t be overlooked.
As the proverb suggests, a healthy body is vital to a healthy mind; and that counts tenfold when discussing mental health support for carers.
Regular exercise is essential to our mental and physical wellbeing – providing us with increased energy and focus – but it’s also a fantastic way recalibrate and collect our thoughts.
As with staying organised, getting active needn’t be prescriptive – there are countless ways to get the blood pumping! Whether a morning run, a brisk walk to work or a short yoga session, staying active is crucial to our overall wellbeing, and perhaps the most easily achievable tip on support for care workers.
You can even make it a social experience by joining a running group, fitness class or simply going for a long walk with a friend or family member.
However you choose to stay active, know that every step you physically take is a key part of your mental health support plan.
Additional Tip: Eat Healthily
As with regular exercise, a balanced, nutritious diet can have a profound impact on your wellbeing. The intrinsic links between diet and mental wellbeing and are well documented and wholly accurate. What we eat affects how we feel, so it’s vital that we strive for healthy eating habits.
And there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, either. From simple substitutions like vegetarian mince in a chilli to eating more green, leafy vegetables, there are numerous ways to cultivate healthy eating habits, so be sure to find what suits you. After all, eating healthily isn’t about getting it right, it’s about getting started.
Our final piece of mental health support advice is, perhaps, the most flexible one as self-care means something different for everyone. Some may opt for a cup of tea and a good book; others may prefer a relaxing bath. Some even choose outdoor pursuits such as mountain climbing!
We couldn’t possibly list all the ways in which people practice self-care, but we can vouch for its importance when it comes to support for carers.
Hiking. Gardening. Rugby. Writing. Cooking. However you decide to take care of yourself, just ensure that you do.
Caring for others is an incredible, and incredibly noble thing to do, but it’s important to remember that maintain your own health and wellbeing, too.
Additional Tip: Have the Courage to Ask
It can be extremely difficult to reach out for help, even if it is desperately needed. From natural aversion to vulnerability, to fear of rejection, or even judgment, stepping up and asking for help can be daunting.
But it needn’t. It is an act of courage. Pure and simple. And it can connect us, too. No one is superhuman, and everyone will, in some form or another, at some time of another, experience difficulties with their mental health; and it is imperative that when we feel overwhelmed, we dig deep and reach out.
Fortunately, there are multiple services available if the load is becoming too heavy to carry alone, from your GP to local NHS urgent mental health helplines, which are for people of all ages, where you can call for 24-hour advice and support for someone you care for, or yourself.
You can speak to a mental health professional who will carry out an assessment to help decide on the best course of care for you or your loved one.
Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls to NHS urgent mental health helplines are free.
Caring for Care: The Abbots Care Vision
At Abbots Care, mental health in health and social care is a topic which we’re extremely passionate about, and we’re eager to provide support in any way that we can. Whether it’s through innovations such as the Abbots Care Wellbeing app, or providing practical, day-to-day mental health support for carers, we understand the importance of maintaining your mental health as a carer.