Looking after you, with the 12 Tips of Christmas
Life can get hard over the holidays, for some of us, too busy, too loud, too stressful. For others, it can be quite a difficult, lonely time, especially if you are isolated with the person you care for at home.
We thought we’d share a few tips on looking after yourself, in body and mind, as best you can.
1. Prioritize your sleep
Tricky one this, especially if you care for someone who needs help at night, but if you can, try your best to get 7+ hours a night. Tips to sleep include a regular bedtime, a room that’s not too warm, and avoiding screens before bed.
Caring can be stressful, so why not teach yourself some relaxation techniques you can do at home? Things like deep-breathing techniques, visualisation (eg imagining yourself in a beautiful, calming place) or muscle relaxation manoeuvres (progressively concentrating on different part of your body and actively relaxing it) can all really help. See some ideas on our relaxation tips sheet.
3. Ask for help
If you feel your mental or physical health is poor – ask for help. Both are equally important so please, ask! Your doctor is the first port of call. Tell them you are a carer, tell them honestly how you are feeling, and you should get the help you need, from them, or referral to other services in Surrey.
4. Eat the rainbow
Looking after yourself includes eating as well as you can. And not only avoiding processed foods and trying to eat a wide range of foods, especially fruit and veg, keeping carbs down, but also eating mindfully. Enjoy what you eat, if you can, eat it ‘consciously’ savouring every bite.
We all know it, but how many of us do it? But as a wise man once said, “If exercise were a pill, it would be the most prescribed medicine in the world.” It brings so many benefits, mental and physical, and even the smallest thing – like a few minutes stretching each day, or a regular walk – will make a significant difference. Carers UK offer a wide range of support and information, including free videos, to help motivate you. Or you could try one of our online sessions, like yoga.
6. Be mindful
Have you tried it? Once you have, you’ll realise what a difference it can make to how you feel in yourself, and about things around you. Simply put mindfulness means slowing down to note the details of both how you are feeling, and the world about you. It can bring great calm!
You know how you feel when you’ve had a nice chat with someone – someone at the shops, a neighbour over the fence, a phone call from a relative you’ve not heard from in a while. Connecting with others is a fundamental part of being human. Seek contact with others where you can. And if caring is making you feel isolated, get in touch with us. If you can’t make it to one of our Hubs we’ll try and suggest some other means of support.
8. You can’t pour from an empty cup
Carers put themselves last, but this can be to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. Sometimes, it’s ok to put yourself first. To give yourself that five minutes to do something for you. To say no to something that’s just too much. Some say think of resilience like a balloon you need to keep inflated – stop every once in a while to see how much has leaked out and replenish it however you can!
9. Write it down
Have you tried writing down how you are feeling and what you are doing? Being able to reflect on your day, and all your feelings can be really healthy – and help you see patterns in behaviours that you might like to change, or help you to vent emotions that you couldn’t possibly do otherwise. You can write down what’s making you sad or anxious, and add possible solutions. Give it a go! Let 2024 be the year of the journal!
10. Keeping warm
We’re all worried about bills, but it’s important in carer households especially to try and stay warm. Some tips from Warmth Matters include: closing the curtains as soon as it’s dark and tucking them behind the radiators, shut the doors to rooms you’re using the most, putting reflective foil panels behind radiators to bounce heat back in teh room, and fitting draught excluders to the front door/letter box. Find more tips and how to get further help from the Warmth Matters team here. And Money Saving Expert have a wealth of tips to help you cut back on costs.
11. Be prepared
When you’re a carer you’re always worried about the person you care for, and also and what they might do if you can’t be there, for whatever reason. Get in touch with Crossroads Care to register yourself on their Emergency Care Plan Service. And download (or call to request) a copy of our Emergency Care Booklet – where you can complete all the information that someone will need to know should you ever not be able to care.
12. Look after your back
A stiff or painful back is common for most people as they age, but there are ways to keep you back supple and strong, including knowing how to do normal tasks safely, as well as simple exercises. Some carers also help the person they care for move. We have a team of Moving and Handling experts who can help you look after your back AND know how to help someone move safely. Find out more about the team and how they can help here.