Learn how to manage your own wellbeing while caring for someone else. Get information and tips on looking after your mental health and finding support.
When you spend a lot of your time focusing on someone else, you may feel as if you have no time for yourself. But looking after your own wellbeing is important for you and for them.
We have listed some self-care ideas that others have said they find helpful. Even trying one small thing might help you feel more able to cope.
On this page:
For general tips about managing your mental health, see our page on how to improve your wellbeing.
It's important to have someone to talk to, especially if you're struggling to cope. You could:
Not all of these options may feel right for you. Or you might feel like you have nobody to share your feelings with. If you are feeling isolated or alone, our pages on coping with loneliness offer more information.
"Try to find someone you can be honest with about your feelings, without judgement."
If you take too much on, you may feel as if you never achieve anything. Try to get a clear idea about what you can do. By accepting the things that you can't change or do alone, you may feel more able to cope. You could try identifying and writing down:
"Respite is possible – and necessary. You can't give your all as a carer – you just can't. You have to save a bit of yourself just for you."
Staying organised can help you feel more in control. You could keep a schedule or planner of your daily routine. Make sure that you keep all important information and medication in one place. But don't be hard on yourself if you get muddled or things get lost. You've got a lot to think about.
If you feel comfortable using technology and have access to a smartphone, you can stay organised digitally. Find out more about carer-specific technology, apps and online services on Carers UK.
It may also help to tell someone else where the information is and what to do if you become unwell. This could be a friend, family member or paid worker.
It's important to help them have some control over their care. You may find this means taking a step back or supporting decisions that are not what you would do. But it may also mean that you can find a balance in your relationship, and perhaps a little more time for yourself.
Work with them to find out:
"After I passed my driving test, I encouraged Mum to take lessons. I knew Mum had driven a car before she became so ill and liked it. It was the best thing she ever did, it gave her some independence."
Looking after someone can change your relationship with them. Sometimes you may feel close and connected. But at other times you may feel angry and irritated. It can help to talk openly and honestly to find ways of coping together.
You could try to:
Try and take a break, especially if you're worried about your own mental health. You may not be able to take a break whenever you need one, but it's important to have some time that's yours.
You may need an hour or two to clear your head, or a day to help you feel more rested. You could go out, have a nap or turn your phone off for an agreed period of time. Try to make time for things you enjoy.
"I love running and being able to get out for half an hour each evening allowed me to clear my head and relax."
If possible, try and plan regular breaks into your routine. This can allow you to:
The Carers Trust has more information about how you can get help to take a break. Sometimes you may need a longer break, especially if you're worried that you're becoming unwell.
It's important to try and make time to look after your physical health as best you can.
"I have come up with my own saying, which is 'you have to make your own normal'. Your life changes so much as a carer and you have to make a new life for yourself. You do not want to feel excluded from life, so you make your own normal."
This information was published in May 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
References and bibliography available on request.
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