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Focusing on our own health as unpaid carers

We asked carers in the Mobilise community (September, 2021) what were some of the things they were tackling. 70% said they were tackling their own mental and physical health. For the first time, this was taking priority over the health of those they care for.

Illustration of two friend video calling.

As carers, for some of us, this is just an area of concern - a worry that is out there but not necessarily something we are able to take action on.

Or the time has come to make the Doctor’s appointment, investigate treatments and work out how we can get support to be able to take care of ourselves.

“Been in touch with my GP about how I am feeling”
“I'm tired mentally and physically from this”
“Frequent advice is to look after yourself. It can be very hard to find the time to self care”
“Suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and still caring for my husband”

This is a topic we focus on in our wellbeing cuppas. Recognising we can’t all make these cuppa sessions Suzanne has put together a short video sharing the reflection exercise we use, as a focus for further discussion. So we can all have a go, and even join in the discussion on Facebook if we like.

Or we can follow the instructions below:

When did we last stop and really think about our own health? Our physical and mental health is important but so often other priorities take over and we keep going. Only now with an extra underlying worry.

This is a short reflection activity we can do on our own at home, a moment to focus on ourselves. If you’d like to talk to others you can join in the discussion in the Facebook Group or try out our wellbeing cuppa series.

You’ll need a pen and paper and a quiet, comfortable place to think

  • Start by taking a pause. A few breaths to relax and focus on you. Close your eyes, breathe gently and check-in on how you are feeling both physically and mentally

  • Now imagine (and you will need to imagine) that you have a whole 30 mins with a really friendly helpful GP who will listen to you. Make a note of all the things you would like to mention to them. Things you are worried about, things you have noticed and the impact they are having on you.

  • Keep going and build up a list.

  • Now review that list. Are there some priorities here? - maybe highlight or underline anything that feels important.

  • Let’s think more broadly about others that can help, perhaps other health care professionals - a practise nurse, dentist, optician, pharmacist, chiropodist, physiotherapist, counsellor, wellbeing help lines.

  • What we do now is up to us, perhaps there is action to take? Don’t forget our doctor may have an econsult system now that will help us get the best advice. NHS 111 or our local pharmacist might also be good starting points.

  • For those of us in work or with health care plans there may be support available from a wellbeing helpline, Occupational therapist or other services.

  • Make a note of any next steps.

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