Looking after your mind and body

Caring can be both rewarding and challenging. The needs of the person may often come before your own and this can mean that you struggle to manage everything.

However, it can be easier to cope if you look after yourself properly. While you might feel that this is not always possible, it is important for both you and the person you are looking after.

Caring can also be physically and mentally exhausting and it affects all aspects of your life. At the same, you have your own physical and mental health needs. It’s important to look after yourself, so that you don’t become unwell.

Your health and wellbeing

Caring can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to look after your health to support you in your caring role.



Staying healthy

It's important to look after your own health. You should consider having regular at your GP practice. Make sure your GP knows you are caring for someone as it will help them support you better and ensure you get all the services you are entitled to.

If you're the main carer of someone who would be at risk if you became ill, you may be eligible for a free NHS flu jab. The same applies if you receive Carer’s Allowance. Having the flu jab will help protect both and frail or suffers from a long-term condition, they may be at higher risk from catching the flu and developing complications. To book your free flu jab, contact your GP practice. 



Eating well

Eating a balanced diet is essential to your wellbeing - it will help give you energy, and sustain and support you in your caring role. A healthy diet will be beneficial for the person you care for too.

You may feel you have limited time for cooking and preparing healthy food, for example. If possible, it’s helpful to make a weekly food plan before doing the shopping, so you then have the ingredients to hand, and don't have to think about what to cook every day.


Staying active 

Taking regular exercise is good for your health - both physical and mental. You could try going for a walk or taking up an exercise class. Whatever you choose it should be fun and something that you want to do.

You may feel you have limited time to go to an exercise class. Try and fit exercise in with your daily routine. If possible, you could have a walk with the person you look after every day. That way you both get out and have some exercise and fresh air.


Sleeping well

Getting enough sleep is important because it helps the brain and body recover from fatigue. Many carers struggle to get enough sleep because the person they care for wakes in the night for a variety of different reasons. If this is the case, you may find it easier to sleep when the other person is sleeping to catch up with your sleep. This may mean taking naps during the day.


Staying connected

Caring can put a huge strain on your relationships with family and friends. You may not always be able to join in social events and end up having less contact with friends and family. Losing touch with others can leave you feeling isolated, lonely and with no support network.


Moving and handling someone else

If you need to help the person you look after move around, it’s important you know about safe moving and handling so you don't hurt yourself or them. Be careful not to injure your back. Injuring your back will limit your movement and it could take a long time for you to recover. Lifting someone incorrectly can also cause injuries to the person you are trying to move.   

Don't be too hard on yourself

At times, caring may feel like a thankless task. Depending on their condition, the person you are caring for may not seem to appreciate your efforts and may think they can do everything themselves. Others may be unaware of how much you do.

You may feel that you are not doing as well as you should be because you get angry and upset and often find yourself struggling with being a carer. Try to remember how well you are doing, managing a difficult situation and supporting someone who needs you. Nobody is perfect and there will be a variety of conflicting emotions when you are caring for someone.

If you are struggling to cope and feel depressed, anxious or stressed, it’s important to get help.

Taking a break

Maintaining your own general wellbeing also involves taking time to relax, exercise, and doing things that you love. It can be difficult to find time for yourself when you are caring someone. When you do manage to get some time to yourself, you may have housework or other tasks to catch up with making it difficult to find time to do something you enjoy. 

It’s important to take time to unwind and continue to do things that you enjoy so that you don't become overwhelmed and exhausted. You may feel guilty for taking this time off but it will help both you and person you care for in the longer term.   


Getting support

If you are caring for someone, you may want or need support at some point. Any carer who appears to need some help has the right to an assessment to see if they are eligible for support from the Council.

Having a Carers Assessment can help you and others understand the impact caring is having on your life and how best to support you. You may be able to get help and advice with financial concerns, your own health, practical help in the home, and any worries about future needs. Even if you are not eligible there are a range of free services in the borough you can access.


Useful contacts: 

Richmond Council Adult Access Team
Address: Adult Social Services, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8891 7971
Minicom: 18001 020 8891 7971
Email: adultsocialservices@richmond.gov.uk

Richmond Carers Hub Service
Address: 5 Briar Road, Twickenham, TW2 6RB
Phone: 020 8867 2380
Email: info@richmondcarers.org