Caring for yourself when caring for others

Do you find it difficult to carve time out of your busy day for yourself?

Are you constantly putting the needs of others before your own?

At the end of each day do you fall into bed feeling drained and exhausted hoping that you will have more energy tomorrow but really knowing that you won’t?

If so, it’s time to put yourself on your ‘to-do’ list.

I work with many carers (mainly those caring for a relative at home) and most of them spend very little time caring for themselves. Sadly, an increasing number are in their late 40s caring for a spouse or parent who is living with a sudden and life changing mental illness. The future they had planned has now changed and their priority is to make sure that the physical needs (and sometimes the emotional needs) of their partner or parent are catered for.

Many carers give little thought to their own physical and emotional needs, which, if left unattended, may result in them feeling stressed, exhausted, depressed, anxious and resentful of their current situation. I encourage them to find some time whether that be daily, weekly or monthly to look after their own health and well-being by putting themselves on their to-do list. Reminding them to ask themselves, “if I’m too ill to care, who is going to do my caring duties?” Also, I point out to them that they will be better able to cope with their caring responsibilities if they are feeling mentally and physically energised, uplifted and have a positive out-look on life.

By having even a small amount of time to yourself you will be amazed at the positive effects it will have on your mental and emotional well-being. Suggestions I make to my clients are tailored to their situation and we discuss how they can make it happen!

Here are five ways for you to access some ‘me-time’.

    1. Ask other family members for help

Usually (but sadly not always) people are willing to help if they are asked and are given support and guidance to do so. The help could be to do domestic chores (shopping, housework etc.), giving you an hour or two off caring so that you can spend time doing something for yourself.

     2. Find a support group

Your local council may be able to help or may have a list of local charities offering support. Organisations such as the Stroke Association, AGE UK, Cancer Support organisations etc. all provide different types of support. Ask if they have a support group specifically for carers which enables them to meet up, get support and share experiences. They may have meetings that are specifically designed for the person being cared for to attend alone, allowing you time for yourself.

3. Create a support group

If you know others who are caring, arrange to meet up weekly or monthly to support each other, ideally a group where only the carers meet but if this is difficult the people being cared for could also attend. There doesn’t have to be many in the group, it could be as few as you and one or two others.

4. Plan an activity for you to do

I’m guessing everything you do has to be planned so plan an activity for yourself. It’s unlikely to happen unless you plan it, so plan it! Things to consider are: – What did you like doing previously? What new things would you like to try?  What time of day and day of the week would suit your circumstances?

5. Arrange to do something with someone else

You’re more likely to show-up if someone else has taken time out and committed to joining you. Make it a regular event – a coffee and a cake, a walk in the park, a monthly visit to the cinema, meditation session, yoga, pottery class etc.

If you’re looking for ways to help you to relax, recharge and gain some focus and clarity, how about trying one of my workshops or retreat days. These sessions are designed to allow you time to relax mentally and physically, in the company of like-minded people where you have the opportunity to recharge your batteries. For a free telephone consultation to see how I can help, contact me or email or ring me on 07751 942234


Make time for you to shine