It can be difficult to think about looking after yourself when someone you care about is seriously ill or dying. But the person you care about wants you to be happy and engaged in your own life, so if you can, try some of the following activities:
- Exercise helps us sleep better, can get rid of tension and depression, and even increases our energy.
- Try and integrate an exercise routine into your everyday. Is there something you can do with the person you’re caring for.
- Start walking every day. Walking 20 minutes a day, three times a week, is very beneficial physically and emotionally. If you can walk with a friend and talk about your day – you’ll be amazed how much it might help.
- Try and get enough sleep, avoid tea and coffee in the evenings.
- Warm baths and relaxing music sometimes help.
- If your sleep is disturbed during the night see if you can get a nap during the day.
- If you feel you’re sleep deprived make sure you speak with your GP or a health professional.
- Try to eat a healthy balanced diet regularly.
- Add fresh fruits and vegetables to it as much as possible.
- If you eat well most of the time – having something ‘nice’ from time to time is a lovely treat.
Take some time out for you
- Everyday choose something to do that makes you happy.
- It sometimes helps to write down the things you would like to do in a week – and tick one off daily.
- Doing things for you help you manage any stress you may have
Studies have shown that well-meaning people will ask three times if they can help. If you say NO three times they’ll stop asking, so when you really need their help they might not be there.
- Remember that many of your friends and family will want to help – they just don’t know how to.
- Instead of saying “No, thanks we are fine”, you could say “We’re okay for the moment, but we’re coping day by day, thank you so much for your kindness and please ask me again.”
- It may be helpful to prepare a list so when people do get in contact you can give them something to do.
- Download our ‘Say Yes’ checklist and stick it to your fridge.
- Find other carers in your area and try and catch up with them – Family Carers Ireland is a really good place to start.
The HSE provides information on services and supports available to carers; see the HSE Find a Service section.
Care Alliance Ireland is a national network of voluntary organisations that work to support family carers.
The Irish Red Cross has published a Carers’ Handbook providing practical information for carers, with comprehensive advice on all aspects of caring, including personal care skills, comfort, mobility and nutrition.
Carers’ Sanctuary is a free, quarterly online magazine aimed at family carers.