Self-care for Carers
Whilst caring can be rewarding and bring people closer to loved ones it can also be stressful.
Locally respondents to research to inform Merton’s Carers Strategy found that 68% reported caring had caused significant stress and impacted their emotional wellbeing, whilst 45% reported having been depressed due to their caring role. 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue each year so it is incredibly common. Visit the ‘For Your Mind’ section of our website for support with your mental wellbeing.
Caring responsibilities can mean supporting others for many hours each week and as such a carer may forgo social activities themselves, such as seeing family and friends or stopping doing a leisure activity. Research has shown that carers reported greater life satisfaction if they can maintain leisure activity and maintain contact with family and friends.
Make time to speak to family and friends even if you initially don’t feel like it! Many exercise classes or leisure activities are now online which may be easier for you to access whilst still carrying out your caring role. You can also get support and advice on how to access and use online services or talk about managing caring responsibilities whilst still doing things you enjoy through Carers Support Merton.
Whilst caring you may experience a number of emotions including sadness, frustration or anger where it may be helpful to talk to others who have had similar experiences. Carers Support Merton offer peer support groups whilst the Alzheimer’s Society run carers peer support groups for people supporting someone with dementia. Merton Mencap offer a carers support service for caring for someone with a learning disability and run peer groups for parents of adult children with Autism. Age UK Merton also run a befriending service for carers.
National research shows that carers are more likely to have two or more long term conditions with the most common health conditions being high blood pressure and physical strain and injury. Local research to inform the carers strategy found that 70% of carers reported their physical health had worsened due to their caring role.
Keeping moving is really important as it can help reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Staying active can also reduce the risk of you having long term conditions and support you to maintain your caring role. Information on increasing your physical activity levels is available on our Be Active page.
A healthy, balanced diet is also important for our wellbeing. Locally one of the biggest challenges carers reported to eating more healthily was ‘finding the time’. Tips on planning meals and freezing food as well as advice on eating more healthily can be found on our Eat Well page.