TIPS FOR CARERS WEEK 2019
Sunday 13 October marks the start of Carers Week, which aims to raise awareness of carers across Australia.
At HelpingMinds we support mental health carers in WA – these are the people who have a have family member or friend living with mental health challenges. Being a carer is hard. It can be an isolating, frustrating and exhausting experience. HelpingMinds provides free confidential services such as counselling, support groups and advocacy to help carers navigate difficult times.
Here are our top tips for carers this Carers Week.
Effective communication tips
- Use active listening skills – Listen with all senses. Try and use eye contact, nodding, questioning, clarification and summarisation. This will ensure clear open and honest communication rather than appearing uninterested or jumping to conclusions.
- Validate – Acknowledging how another person is feeling can make them feel heard and understood in a way that builds trust and closeness, even when dealing with difficult emotions.
- Remember – You and your family are on the same team. Take a moment to think about how you can work together on issues.
Tips for Managing Emotions
- Name what you are feeling and why – Rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed by an emotion, take a moment to name what you are feeling and think about what has caused it. Writing it down may help you process it.
- Look after yourself – Eat well, get some sleep, exercise and avoid drugs and alcohol; these things can help reduce the impact of strong emotions.
- Talk it out – Talking to someone is the best way to work through emotions. It could be a friend or family member, health professional or helpline. Asking for help is no longer considered a sign of weakness – it takes great strength.
Tips for coming to terms with someone’s mental illness and ambiguous loss
- Be kind to yourself– Acknowledge that what you are going through is difficult and treat yourself with the same kindness that you treat others.
- Reach out to your support people– Talking to friends and family about your loved ones mental ill-health can be tough. Contact HelpingMinds where you can chat to a counsellor or peer support worker who understands.
- Develop a mindfulness practice – Download a free meditation app or follow a mindfulness YouTube tutorial. Mindfulness creates space to think, space to breathe and space between ourselves and our reactions.
Tips for staying calm in a crisis
- Be aware – Notice when tension in your body arises; what does it look like? Take a second to breathe and engage your senses; what do you see, hear, feel and smell. Being aware of your physical reactions can help you calm down before acting.
- You have a choice – Choose if you want to react or respond. Take a moment to think how you would like to respond rather than rushing into a reaction.
- W.I.N – Ask yourself “What’s really Important, Now?”
Tips for breaking isolation
- Take a break from caring – Whether it’s taking a walk in nature or enjoying coffee with a friend; take a break from your caring role to connect with yourself and others.
- Get support from like-minded people – Find a support group for people going through a similar situation. HelpingMinds offers a range of support groups for mental health carers across WA.
- Find support online – Whether it’s online carer forums, inspiring Instagram accounts or blog posts, the internet has created an opportunity for people from all walks of life to share their stories and experiences for others to relate to.
- Self-care isn’t selfish – Burnout is far too common in carers and self-care can be one of many remedies. Don’t think of it as being selfish, instead think of it as helping you to build yourself back up when life is trying to bring you down.
- Schedule in some time – If you are struggling to find time for self-care, schedule it into your week. Book a yoga class, ask a friend to go for a walk or set a reminder on your phone to meditate. Then repeat and make it a habit.
- It’s okay to say no – Sometimes the greatest act of self-care is saying no. When a task is beyond your emotional, mental or physical capacity, give yourself permission to say no.