Looking after yourself

It is easy for care partners to put their own health and wellbeing needs second to the person they are supporting. This may be because of tiredness, stress or lack of support. However, there are real limits to what any one person can do when their own needs are being neglected. 

Prioritising your own wellbeing becomes very important to maintaining quality of life for both you and the person you are supporting.  Exercise, a healthy diet, opportunities to unload and unwind are all important to maintaining a sense of well being and are not luxuries to be deferred until later. Sometimes stress can become the ‘air we breathe’ and without strategies to manage it can lead to depression and physical health issues.

Supporting a person with dementia can be taxing on a number of levels and ‘refuelling your own tank’ is imperative. Part of self-care can be tapping into resources from the CDHB that are there to assist you, like ‘carer support’ and ‘day programmes’. The opportunity to talk through issues as they arise can also be incredibly helpful.

Lifestyle also plays a huge role in self care. The following list provides a general guideline of lifestyle factors that can influence our wellbeing:

  • Get moving
    E
    xercise is a known stress release and so important for our bodies and mind
     
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine and sugar 
    While these things may give us an initial boost their long term effects can leave us feeling more drained and depleted than we otherwise would
     
  • Prioritise pleasure and people
    Feel good about feeling good, spending time with friends who make us laugh, reading a great book or watching a funny movie is an important part of looking after ourselves
     
  • Relax, relax, relax 
    Knowing how to unwind involves more than turning on the television;  breathing exercises, walking,  mindfulness and yoga are all great ways of turning down the stress dial
     
  • Eat well
    Eat plenty of fresh whole foods and reduce processed food where possible
     
  • Practice gratitude
    There is research to suggest that spending a few minutes a day feeling gratitude for what we have can improve our mental state
     
  • Talk to someone
    Letting friends, family or professionals know how you’re feeling can really help with keeping things in perspective and ensure you get the support you need.

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