How carers promote strong mental health

Mental Health Week 2020 comes at a time when carers everywhere are feeling the strain. Lockdown is a challenge for anybody, but for carers it is especially difficult - the closure of respite services, restrictions on shopping and, very often, having to 'shield' the person we're caring for.

We already know that carers tend to experience stress, anxiety and loneliness as a result of their caring role, which makes it all the important for us to be thinking about ways to look after our mental health.

So, we asked around the carers of the Mobilise to find out how people are coping.

About 4 in 10 of our community rated their current mental health as a '6' or a '7' out of 10. But there was a pretty wide range, which isn't surprising given how every carer's situation is different.

Just over half our carers said their mental health wasn't as good as it had been last year - so if you're struggling to manage things at the moment, remember that you're not alone.

The key question is: What can we do about it? Well, a staggering 8 in 10 carers are finding that talking to family and friends is a key part of keeping things positive. It's been touching to hear about the different ways of doing that - Facetime and phonecalls can be great if everybody's tech-savvy, but sometimes writing somebody a letter (Yup, an old-fashioned pen-and-paper) can have a huge impact. It's particularly popular if you're sending to someone you can't visit in a care home.

There's also quite a few carers finding that spending time in nature helps calm them down and feel positive. The recent relaxation in the lockdown rules mean that there are some more opportunities to do this - going for a walk more often, or meeting somebody in the park.

Those of us who can't leave home (perhaps because we're shielding) can still get our hit of green goodness - either with pot plants, or drawing and photographing the nature scenes out our window.

Perhaps the most important part of all of this is to know ourselves. If there are particular times, places or activities that become difficult, then knowing that and planning to keep ourselves occupied can really help. Sometimes its just deep breath and counting to ten.

Here are some of the resources carers are finding helpful at the moment:

InsightTimer - A free app for sleep, anxiety & stress

DDMIX - A fun and entertaining online dance fitness programme, with 20-minute sessions for all ages

Yoga with Adriene - Easy-to-learn yoga sessions starting from the *very* beginning (even the clumsiest amongst us can manage them!)

NHS Every Mind Matters - This includes practical advice to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

If you could do with a chat with some others who understand what it's like to be caring for someone at the moment, take a look at our Mobilise Cuppas.

If you'd rather have a chat 1-2-1, then we are offering free 30 minute coaching sessions. Carers often find them helpful to get things off their chest and work things through out loud. You can book in here.

Thanks to everybody who responded to our little survey - you've helped lots of others out there!

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© Mobilise Care Ltd 2020