Carer Support Carer Wellbeing It can be easy when you’re caring for someone to forget your own needs; but it is very important to look after your mental health and well-being, not only for your own benefit, but also for the person you are supporting. You’ve probably heard the old adage ‘you can’t give proper care if you’re not looking after yourself’, but it really is true. Wellness doesn’t have to involve a whole new regime. There are little things you can do each day to keep yourself healthy - taking a little exercise, eating healthy food or taking an hour to simply switch off will make all the difference. Here are five tried and trusted actions that we can all introduce into our day to day lives to improve our well-being: 1. Be Active Taking some time to do some exercise can fill you with energy and can help to keep you healthy and well. Regular physical activity is also associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Going for a walk or simply stretching your muscles regularly will help to keep you fit. Alternatively, you may find yourself more motivated if you join a group class such as yoga or a dance class – just find something you enjoy! 2. Connect with People Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can not only help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth, but provide emotional support and allow you to support others. 3.Give to others Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you, or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your wellbeing and help you build new social networks connect with others and feel part of something bigger. 4. Take notice Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness,” and it can positively change the way you feel about life, and how you approach challenges. Enjoying the moment, paying attention to friends and family, and reflecting on your experiences can help you appreciate what matters most to you. 5. Keep learning Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument or take up a new language? Get Support You are not alone - there are people out there who can support you on your caring journey: WAC are here for you if you are struggling with your caring role (0300 012 4272). We can also signpost you to other organisations that may be able to offer specific support, depending on your needs. Register with your doctor – It is important that everyone at your surgery is aware that you are a carer so that they can provide you with support and help if you need it. GPs have a responsibility to support and work with you in your caring role but also to help you to maintain your own health. Don’t be afraid to share the load with others. Relatives and close friends often want to help, but don’t know how. A simple phone call, explaining how you feel, might be all it takes to get them onboard and make you feel less alone. Even if they only have a few hours per week, they could take their turn to prepare a meal, help to get somebody ready for bed or take them out for a change of scene. If you are finding it hard to balance paid employment with looking after someone else, you have a right to ask your employer about flexible working arrangements. This could involve going part time, changing your work pattern or job sharing. We run a selection of well-being and information sessions for carers to help support you in your role – click HERE to see our events page.