Some people can get so overwhelmed with the demands of the caring role that they forget about their own needs. They throw themselves into looking after the needs of others with such energy that they end up feeling burnt out. To do a good job as a carer it is important that you look after yourself too. You will be a better carer and feel better if you are also a good carer of yourself. You may not be able to have all the life you want but you can have some of it. Take some time every day for yourself. That does not mean it has to be a lot of time but it needs to be some time that is just for you. Even if it is only 20 minutes a day then take it. Hopefully it could be longer and more frequently. But it helps you cope with relentless demand if you know this time is coming up. That is your secret time to do whatever you want. That might mean doing nothing and that could be just what you need. Better still plan one pleasure a day and schedule it. If it is something you do already then highlight it and look forward to it as your guilt-free necessary pleasure time.
Music can be a great therapy and means of reducing anxiety and boosting mood when the demands of life seem too much. So turn the radio or sound system to whatever music you like. Maybe try a new type of music some days so you broaden your experience. You can get through the worst tasks in any day and lift your mood through music. It doesn’t matter whether it’s country and western, rock, classical, opera or pop so long as it makes you feel good. Try dancing along even if you're alone.Try having it as a backdrop at demanding times of your day or straight after. Pick something that makes you feel good and sing along if you feel like it. Even if music is not your thing, give it a try.
Being a carer is often a stressful role even though there can be many positives. Most people will find that there are some days when it feels all too much and they experience upsetting negative thoughts. And guess what? - it's okay to feel that way. So acknowledge it to yourself if that is how you feel, even if most of the time you need to ignore those feeings in order to get on with things. And don’t feel guilty for feeling this way, you are only human after all. But once you do acknowledge it, it's important to distract yourself and not dwell too much on those thoughts because over-thinking a situation you cannot change can make you feel worse. In short it is ok to tell yourself “This is tough, I find it hard, I would prefer things were different”, and then “I can do the next practical steps. And I will distract myself and plan something to look forward to”.
Try novelty. Doing something new is both a distraction but also a great source of stimulation that can enrich your life. Try creating a "novelty diary". This is different to a pleasure diary (see Mood Tips) because you don't have to know that you like the new thing you're trying. Even if you're at home, there are new recipes to try, new books or magazines to read, new movies to watch, new walks to take and new skills to learn. Make a menu of all these choices. Even if you feel you don't have energy, trying something new, even something you're not sure you'll like, can give you new energy.
Exercise is also a way of boosting mood and giving you feelings of empowerment, even if this is only through a virtual online home-based exercise or pilates class. Maybe add exercise to your novely list if you don’t do so already. You might find other tips on the relaxation page are useful here too.
Identify and call on your supports. Make a list of who they are whether they are family, friends or other types of support, professional or otherwise. Try to share your load even occasionally if at all possible. Learn to accept offers of help if they are made. Do not feel you should do it all yourself if you have any choice.