Six tips for looking after yourself if you’re caring for someone

Posted on: 01 March 2017 by 50connect editorial

If you’re looking after someone who is living with a terminal illness, it’s important to remember to look after your own emotional health too.

looking after yourself while caring for others

This March, Marie Curie is calling on people to support the Great Daffodil Appeal so they can care for more people living with a terminal illness, and their families. If someone you love is living with a terminal illness, it’s important to remember to look after yourself as well. 

Face your feelings

Caring for someone who’s living with a terminal illness can be challenging and upsetting. You may find yourself feeling guilty or resentful, and the demands on your time and energy can be very stressful. You may also feel very sad and begin grieving.

It’s much better to face up to how you’re feeling than ignore it. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to feel – everyone is unique.

talk about concerns

Talk about it 

Talking to someone about how you’re feeling may help you deal with your emotions and the impact that caring for someone is having on your life. This can be a confusing time but try to remember that you’re not alone. Speak to a friend, your GP or a counsellor.

Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you’re feeling. The Marie Curie Support Line is free to call on 0800 090 2309. Your call will be answered by trained staff who can offer practical information and emotional support.

Get enough sleep

It’s easier said than done when you’re looking after someone, but getting a decent amount of sleep can help you feel more able to cope. If you’re having problems sleeping for more than a few nights, speak to your doctor. 

Marie Curie Nurses care for people through the night and may be able to help. Find out more about how nurses care for people in their own homes.

Try to eat well

You may find yourself forgetting about your own needs when you’re looking after someone else’s. Eating well is vital.

Try to avoid relying on sugary snacks and convenience foods – they may keep you going in the short term, but can leave you feeling down and low in energy a few hours later. Fresh fruit and veg, foods high in protein such as meat, fish, eggs and beans, and lots of water are key to keeping yourself well-fuelled. 

Make time for yourself

Build in breaks  

Try to include some time for yourself, even if it’s just going for a short walk or reading a chapter of a book. Writing in a journal can also be a good way to de-stress.

Exercise might not be at the top of your agenda, but it’s great for lifting your mood.

Ask for help 

Remember, you don’t have to cope on your own. No one will think any less of you if you ask for help when you need it. Your family and friends may not want to intrude. They might be waiting for you to ask them to help out. Your GP is also there to support you. And there’s more information about looking after your wellbeing when caring for someone with a terminal illness on the Marie Curie website.

Marie Curie cares for people living with terminal illness, and their families, offering expert guidance and support to help them get the most from the time they have left. This March, support the Great Daffodil Appeal and help Marie Curie Nurses be there for more people who need them.

Donate and wear your daffodil

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