Caring for someone you love who is unable to care for themselves properly can be immensely rewarding but also incredibly challenging. When your days are spent prioritising the needs of someone else, you can forget that you also have needs of your own. Unfortunately, this can mean carers sometimes struggle with physical or emotional exhaustion, burnout, or even mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. Acknowledging and meeting your needs is essential to help you fulfil your role as a carer and ensure the time you spend with your loved one is about care and quality rather than feelings of obligation.
We can’t recommend self-care enough to keep your mental health bank balance topped up – you can’t keep giving to others if you’re running on empty. We’re not just talking about doing the basics, like getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and prioritising your own health checks. We’re also talking about organising regular breaks, leisure time, and doing things you enjoy.
Being responsible for the wellbeing of another human is stressful but there are a few relatively simple strategies that may help you to cope better, including:
- Prioritising tasks and tackling them one at a time – remembering to set realistic time frames
- Practicing self-compassion – you’re doing the best you can for you and your loved one
- Noticing and challenging negative self-talk
- Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal
- Celebrating achievements – no matter how small
- Accepting love and support from others
It is common for carers to think they should be able to manage or feel embarrassed or guilty about asking for help. However, it is important to seek or accept help when you need it, whether on a personal or professional level.
Therapy and Help Lines
Visit your GP for a referral to a psychologist through Better Access or any other funding programs you may be eligible for. You can also call Carers SA on 1800 422 737 for advice and counselling services.
Connecting with others who may be experiencing the same issues as you can be beneficial. Talk to your GP, call Carers SA, or simply Google local support groups that may be appropriate for your needs.
There are different types of respite and in-home care services, including short-term or emergency respite, and in-home help from qualified carers.
You can access the most up-to-date information about support and funding for carers through South Australia Care and Support