Taking care of yourself as a 'carer'

Taking care of your own needs is essential

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Taking care of yourself is important for your overall well-being and can help you better support others.

Self-care

Self-care is not selfish, even though you may feel this way at times. Looking after everyone else in your life and putting their needs over yours may lead to poorer outcomes in your relationships. Doing this may feel good in the moment and may distract you from what you may be experiencing in your own life. 

Analogous to the pre-flight video we see before take-off we need to put on our own face mask before helping others.

Self-care can improve our resilience, reduce stress and anxiety, and strengthen our relationships with others.  In addition, when we take care of our own needs we act as a role model to others, showing them that you feel you're important and inviting them to also reflect on themselves and into a new way of being in a relationship.

Self-care can look different for everyone, whether it's taking a long bath, going for a walk in nature, practicing meditation, trying a new hobby or simply saying 'no' to something that doesn't serve us. 

It's important to note that self-care is not a one-time fix or a quick solution to all of our problems. It's a continuous practice that requires effort and intentionality. It can be challenging to make self-care a priority, especially in a culture that values productivity and self-sacrifice. Taking care of ourselves is crucial for both our physical and mental health. 

There may be times when a person is unwell that you may need to offer more support. It's important though, as soon as possible to step back and allow them the capacity to learn and grow.

Finding the right balance

Finding the right balance between taking care of yourself and others is essential for your overall well-being and the well-being of those you support. Here are some steps to help you strike that balance:

Self-awareness

Start by understanding your own needs, limits, and priorities. What are your physical, emotional and mental needs? What are your goals and values? Knowing yourself better will help you make more informed decisions about how to allocate your time and energy.

Set boundaries

Establish clear boundaries between your personal time and your responsibilities to others. This includes setting limits on how much you can give, both in terms of time and emotional support. Communicate these boundaries to others so they understand your limits.

Maintain open and honest communication with the people in your life. Let them know about your boundaries and the importance of self-care. Encourage them to express their needs and boundaries as well, so you can work together to find a balance.

Refer also to our Boundaries page.

Prioritise self-care

Recognise that taking care of yourself is not selfish. It's a necessary part of being able to care for others effectively. Make self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and rest, a regular part of your routine.

Time management

Use effective time management techniques to balance your commitments. This may involve creating a schedule, prioritising tasks and learning to say no when necessary. Remember that saying no to one thing can mean saying yes to something more important.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind and forgiving to yourself. Recognise that you're not perfect and it's okay to make mistakes or prioritise yourself when needed. Avoid self-criticism and guilt for taking care of your own needs. 

Seek support

If you're struggling to find the right balance, consider seeking support from a therapist, counsellor, a trusted friend or a family member. 

Be flexible

Life is dynamic and there will be times when your priorities shift. Be flexible and adaptable in your approach to self-care and supporting others, recognising that the balance may need to change from time to time.

Finding the balance between taking care of yourself and others is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a willingness to adapt as circumstances change. Remember that achieving this balance is not only beneficial for you but also for the people you support, as it allows you to provide better support and care when you are at your best.

An empty lamp can shed no light.