Looking after yourself

Being a carer can mean that you spend all of your time focussing on someone else and you may feel that you don’t have time to focus on you.  However, looking after yourself is important, both for you and the person you care for, and there are some things that may help you feel better able to cope.  There are a few tips below.

Get a break

Caring for someone can be tiring so it is important that you get a break when you need it.  It may be that as part of your Carers Assessment you have respite available from the local council which you can use to take a short break.  There may also be other ways that you can take a break such as having a friend or family member sit with your loved one whilst you do something you enjoy for an hour or two.  Carers UK have a useful factsheet about taking a break which may help.   Carers Trust have useful information about respite breaks 

Make time for yourself

It can be very difficult to make time for yourself when you are a carer but it is an important way to help make sure that you have good physical and mental wellbeing.  Taking a little time out to do something that you enjoy is a good start; it could be that you have a particular hobby that you make a little time for or that you set up a coffee with a friend or neighbour.  Whatever the things are that you enjoy and that make you feel good, try to find a little time for you to do these things.

Ask for help

It can be lonely being a carer so it’s important to ask for help if you need it, although this may be difficult.  If you have friends or family nearby let them know when you need help or talk to them about how you feel.  If you haven’t had a Carers Assessment then this can help you to identify support that you need as a carer too (find out more about Carers Assessments here)

Look after your physical wellbeing

This is an important part of look after your mental wellbeing too and there are many ways that you can try to stay healthy:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Exercise regularly in whichever way you enjoy
  • Get your physical health checked by your GP regularly
  • If you are between 40 and 74, and do not have existing conditions, you are entitled to a free NHS health check and should be invited for this by your GP every 5 years
  • Keep in touch with friends, family and neighbours

Carers UK have many more tips for looking after your health on their website 

Many local organisations offer respite, social groups and other support.  You can find out more on our Local Support and Information page

Places for mental health and wellbeing support

Phone Numbers:

  • Mind in Bexley run a wellbeing line: 0808 196 3896
  • Samaritans offer a 24 hour helpline for confidential emotional support for people experiencing distress or despair on 116 123
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) mental health support for men aged 15-35: 0800 58 58 58
  • Shout is a confidential, anonymous service where you speak to trained volunteers by text message.  It is free and doesn’t appear on your phone bill:  text the word ‘SHOUT’ to 858258

Online resources:

  • Mind in Bexley runs a variety of services including talking therapies, a Crisis Café and groups or activities to support your wellbeing.  You can self-refer online or be referred through your GP
  • Qwell offers free, online counselling to Bexley residents as well as a range of self-help tools, community discussion boards and journals
  • Red Cross have produced this useful wellbeing pack that you can download
  • NHS Every Mind Matters is a website with expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing
  • There are talking therapies and counselling services which can be helpful if you need someone to listen or you could take a look at the self-help advice on the NHS Choices Website
  • The Mental Health Foundation has some useful resources to help you look after your mental health

If you are in an emergency crisis situation and need support, Mind in Bexley have a list of local resources 

Keep up to date with carers news

You can sign up to regular carers e-newsletters from Bexley Council to stay up to date with national and local carers news here.

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