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Caring for someone with a disability, terminal illness or someone who is continuing to decline can mean facing unique issues. You may be coping with your employer or family member’s physical and emotional needs, which can be very tiring and can take a toll on your own mental and physical health. When you are caring for someone, you can’t always avoid difficult feelings and they can stretch even the most resilient person to their limit.

It is not uncommon for people in this position to experience:

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • sadness
  • grief
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • loneliness
  • guilt
  • helplessness
  • resentment
  • frustration
  • anger
  • shame

It is important to take the appropriate steps to take care of yourself so you are able to care for someone else to your full potential. Consider speaking to your GP or other health and social care professionals to find out what support is available.

Sometimes the difficult emotions of caring can change into depression. It’s not always easy to know when this is happening, bad days can merge into a blur and it can be hard to identify if you are tired or depressed. Some of the symptoms of depression like feeling tired, forgetful and losing your appetite, can also be caused by the extra demands of caring.

Depression can affect people in different ways. These are some of the signs you can look out for:

  • feeling flat, sad, empty or hopeless all the time
  • feeling guilty or worthless
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • feeling irritable and intolerant
  • being unable to take pleasure in things that normally matter to you like spending time with your grandchildren.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your GP or another healthcare professional.

Emotional support is available for carers, there are numerous links to support groups and networks through the NHS website as well as going through your local council. Help for carers can come through a range of different methods, whether that is speaking to someone professionally or a loved and trusted one, taking time to relax or taking a break from caring temporarily.

Taking time for yourself regularly will give you time to restore your mental and emotional threshold. Relaxation is anything that helps your body and mind slow down and switch off for a bit, and it varies for everyone. While you might think of relaxation as deep breathing, meditation and slow music, there are many other ways that you can help your mind switch off for a bit so you can restore yourself.

Whether you only have 20 minutes to listen to a podcast, maybe you find cooking relaxing or going for a brisk walk in your time off.

It is important to ensure you take the time to ensure you are able to regularly relax, especially when you are in a job like caring, with long hours and mental and physical demands, if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself you could find yourself run down, sick and at your wits end.

If you feel you need more time off but you are worried about what would happen to the person you are caring for, there are options to bridge the gap. This is where respite care is your answered prayer. Respite carers are here to step seamlessly into the shoes of a regular carer and take over completely.

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