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The Caregiver's Journey: Learning to Care for Yourself

Me and my 82 year old dad

Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Children you all have a role in life. That role can change as you experience various celebrations or challenges.

I'm writing this blog in hope of connecting with you, empathising with your needs through my own experiences. Offering a supportive link for you to reach out to in hope of reassuring you that you're not alone in your struggles and that you can rise from the ashes to enjoy life and begin to see a glimmer of light shining down ready to guide you to pastures new.

Being a carer is not always a chosen life path, although I would say you may have qualities that make you a natural carer.

  • Patience

  • Nurturing

  • Calm demeaner

  • Positive mindset

What are carers expected to do:

  • Personal care

  • Shopping

  • Supporting with daily living

  • Driving to social activities

  • Socially engage and communicate

  • Manage finances

Statistics: Wigan Today Newspaper (Census 2021)

In Wigan my hometown, 58.2 % of people are unpaid carers :

This is me, on call, supporting my father whilst trying to juggle a full time job and being self employed.

Across England and Wales there are approximately 2.8 million female unpaid carers and and 1.9 million male unpaid carers

For many people, the benefits system does not recognise and support those who work, making them not eligible for financial support to aid the person they care for. Therefore many people do not have a choice other than to be an unpaid carer.

Which direction can you turn if you are not eligible for financial support as a carer?

Being a carer is not only a responsibility but it can be a pull on your own inner resources. mentally, emotionally and physically.

I have personally experienced this after supporting my father for the past 2 years to now finally see him flourish in his new home (sheltered accommodation) This however has come at a price for myself whom now is seeing the physical misalignment within myself.

Loving others whilst supressing our own needs - is a quick route to disease

Gabor Maté is a retired physician, bestselling author and renowned speaker shares many many YouTube videos, books and information about how disease can manifest.

"Women have a high risk of autoimmune diseases due to their over giving to others whilst neglecting their own needs"

Conditioning, social expectations and the natural nurturing women provide for others highlights them as individuals whom need to address their needs more than others. Motherhood, family responsibilities for elders, children with additional needs to general keeping the family unit together.

Even when there's other family members able to do such roles women tend to take the lead, detrimental to their own needs. I myself feel the need to be constantly doing and even finding it difficult to acknowledge what my needs are when I get time and space to nurture myself. Therefore I ignore my needs and do something for others. Thus leading to emotional exhaustion, physical aches and pains and resentment towards those i'm helping.

You may wish to listen this video I've handpicked for you to share more details regarding how illness can manifest through how you live your life.

How can you begin to nurture yourself on a deeper level?

Here's some suggestions

  • Mindset - living in the present, bringing yourself back to your your presence. Creating intervals throughout your day to notice how you feel, acknowledging those feelings and then setting them free. They don't need to control you!

  • Support - asking for help, this is a biggie. No matter how small, whether it's asking the person you're caring for to be patient with you or a neighbour to drop in so you can have a break for 5 or 10 mins. To receiving support from charities, support groups, friends.

  • Breathe - flow of energy is important to keep you moving cognitively and physically. There's many apps that will guide you to find ways that are right for you. Start small, it could be a couple of minutes in the morning or before you go to sleep.

  • Free gift - Enjoy a meditation to help you through anxious moments

I've kept those short as I know how overwhelming it is when you're given a bit list of things to help you.

Being a carer can be isolating so utilising those links above can be a great help.

Mental Health Support

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing is also important, there's an abundance of mental health charities ready to support you. If you're struggling to get out for face to face sessions Better Help can offer you support via their website and app prices start at £40.

There's also charities such as The Samaritans that offer free support

As a fellow carer, I do hope you find this blog useful. It's important to feel heard and understood before you can appreciate the help from others.

"In the heart of every Caregiver is a knowing that we are all connected. As I do for you, I do for me"

Louise Winstanley

Children's Author & Family Wellness Leader

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