National Carers Week is 12th – 18th June 2017. It’s extremely easy as a carer to forget to look after yourself when you’re so busy taking care of a loved one with additional needs. Unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion a year, yet benefit cuts and long waiting lists for NHS services mean that it is one of the most stressful jobs you can do.
This week, take some time for yourself and do at least one of these top relaxation tips:
- Take a bubble bath
Shut the door, light some candles, sit back and unwind. Use your favourite bubble bath or essential oils and let the warm water soak the stress away.
Meditating for as little as 10 minutes a day can reduce blood pressure, symptoms of depression and other psychological disorders, and reduce physical pain. There are many great apps out there, including Headspace to guide you through this ancient practice.
- Go outside for a walk
We all know the benefits of exercise; from reducing your risk of weight related conditions such as type two diabetes, to releasing endorphins for a mental boost. Going outside will also expose you to the sunshine vitamin D which in itself has a whole host of health benefits including the regulation of calcium absorption.
- Read a book
Get lost in a world between the pages, and unwind with a good book. Fact or fiction, reading stimulates the brain, reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s and reading novels can even improve your theory of mind. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out Cerebra’s free PDF downloadable book: Managing Stress for Carers and their Families.
- Catch up on your favourite TV show
We’re in the era of catch up TV and on demand streaming services which means that you never have to miss your favourite show again, regardless of the time you’re able to stop. Sit back, switch on, and unwind.
- Talk to a friend
Whether it’s on social media, text message, or a good old-fashioned phone call. Talking to a friend can really help reduce your stress levels. There are also lots of groups out there which provide a platform for carers to speak with other people going through a similar situation. Autism Puzzles can help support carers looking after children going through the autism diagnosis process, click here for further information. Like they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
- Get a massage
All of us deserve some R&R, carers more so. Let someone else take care of you for a change, and go for a massage or any other pamper treatment. Most carers will spend a portion of their day doing lots of physically, as well as mentally, difficult tasks. From having to carry a child long past the toddler stage, to bearing the physical brunt of a meltdown, these challenges will be easier to face when that age old knot has been worked out by expert hands.
- Order a takeaway
Sometimes, it’s the small things in life which can make a real difference. Ordering a takeaway removes a little bit of the pressure (and if you eat it directly out of the carton, means no washing up!) Use those extra minutes to put your feet up for a change; you definitely deserve it.
- Listen to music
Scientists have discovered that music releases dopamine, the feel good chemical in your brain, when you listen to music you enjoy. Classical, jazz, pop, or rock – it doesn’t matter, as long as you love it. Turn it up, sing along, and dance like nobody’s watching.
- Play a computer game
Gaming is not just for kids, in fact, it could be argued that more and more games are being aimed at an adult audience. Whilst casual, story driven games are backed up by the scientific community as effective stress relief, getting out your frustrations using the odd first person shooter is likely to give you a short term release at the very least.
If all else fails, you can check out the calming websites collated by our friends at Meic.
Whilst at least one of the above tips should help, if you find you are in need of further support, Carers UK have a brilliant website and can offer practical support: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice