Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Stress and Carers

Carers are among the most relied upon members of our society but not always the most appreciated. Whether caring is your chosen career or you care for a family member, you can be vulnerable to high levels of stress. This article aims to give you some ideas about how to cope better.

Why do carers become stressed?

If caring is your career -
  • Long hours or time management issues
  • Low income for high levels of responsibility
  • Expectations of employers, clients or families
  • Shift work and call-out rotas interfering with family life
  • Physically challenging, e.g. lifting clients
  • Emotionally challenging, e.g. feeling you can’t give clients the support you would like to
If you are caring for a family member -
  • Your own life, career and other plans may have to be put on hold
  • Feeling trapped, even if you love the person you’re caring for
  • Worrying about the future e.g. what will happen if you can’t cope any more
  • Changing relationship with the person you’re caring for
  • Exhaustion if you have to be there 24/7
  • Loneliness: your social life may be difficult or impossible to maintain
These are just a few of the problems carers face, and some of these issues could easily go into both groups.

What can you do?

  • Accept that you need to be cared for too and you don’t need to feel guilty about it.
  • Take practical steps to look after yourself such as learning to lift properly.
  • Try to build in some regular 'me' time. Easier said than done, I know, but looking after yourself means you are in better shape to look after someone else.
  • Learn and use relaxation techniques, some of which take only a few minutes. If you are caring for a family member, encourage them to use them too so you both feel more positive.
  • Look around for services such as complementary therapies which might be available to you and perhaps the person you care for. These may be available free or at a reduced rate, especially if you are willing to let students practice on you.
  • If you feel anxious, stressed or depressed, or you are not sleeping well, see your GP sooner rather than later even if you don’t want to use medication. They should be able to offer other support as well.
  • Your immune system is affected by stress and catching all the bugs that go around makes it harder to cope. Eat the healthiest diet you can afford, and aim to get regular fresh air or exercise. Even ten minutes a day makes a difference.
  • Get support. Some local councils run carers support groups, if there is nothing in your area, reach out to forums online where there are others who understand.
  • If you are caring for a family member, know what resources are available in your area and use them. You are doing an amazing job and you're entitled to this. Never feel you are failing by not doing everything yourself.
  • If caring is your career, make sure you take advantage of the breaks and holidays you're entitled to, and any other resources provided by your employer such as reduced rate massages, stress management sessions etc.
If you are a carer, you can download a free five minute relaxation audio and other free resources from my website at http://www.yorkshirestressmanagement.com/freebies.htm


Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.
Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from Amazon.co.uk.
Find out more about Debbie's services on www.yorkshirestressmanagement.com  or phone 01977 678593

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