In Europe there are an estimated 100 million carers1 providing emotional, financial, nursing, administrative, and other support on a daily or ad hoc basis for their loved ones. The contribution that carers make for loved ones who are living with serious illnesses is immense; they provide over 80% of all care2, yet their role is not always acknowledged.
Being mindful of your own needs while caring for others
Taking on a caring role can be both rewarding and overwhelming. Devoting significant amounts of time and energy to care for others can be stressful, isolating and exhausting. If you are caring for someone, it is important to also remain mindful of your own needs. It might not seem like a priority, especially if you are supporting someone you care about with a serious medical condition, but working on your own physical and mental health is vital. Looking after your own wellbeing is beneficial not only for you, but also for the person you are caring for – you can only maintain the support they need if you are healthy yourself.
Practicing some self-care
Some simple steps that you can take to ensure your wellbeing include:
- Regular exercise: even a short walk can help improve mood and contribute to a better night’s sleep.
- Healthy nutrition: maintaining a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to fuel the hard work you do every day.
- Social interaction: keeping up with friendships, even if it is just via telephone calls, emails or texts.
- Relaxation methods: practicing yoga, meditation or mindfulness for just fifteen minutes each day can be help take some time out to unwind.
- Carer organizations: look up your local carer organization for guidance, support and information. These groups may also provide the opportunity to connect with other carers which can be enormously helpful.
- Carer benefits: do some research and find out if there are any relevant carer entitlements or financial benefits that could help ease the strain on other aspects of your day-to-day life.
- Share the load: don’t shy away from accepting offers of help and, if you can, delegating jobs such as shopping, cooking and cleaning.
- Take breaks: caring constantly without a break is bad for both you and the person you care for. Friends, family and respite care services may be able to provide you with some regular time out for you to rest and recharge.
We captured the invaluable contribution made by those caring for loved ones in a series of videos for our campaign #ByMySide. The videos celebrate the strength, resilience and courage of patients impacted by heart and blood diseases while honoring those carers who selflessly provide support and compassion for loved ones.