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How carers promote strong mental health

Lockdown was a challenge for everybody, but for carers it was especially difficult - the closure of respite services, restrictions on shopping to having to 'shield' the person we cared for.

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

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

About four in 10 of our community rated their current mental health as a 'six' or a 'seven' out of 10. But there was a pretty wide range, which wasn't surprising given how every carer's situation was different.

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

The key question is: What are we able to do about it?

Well, a staggering eight in 10 carers found that talking to family and friends was a key part of keeping things positive. It was touching to hear about the different ways of doing that - FaceTime and phone calls 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 we're sending to someone we are unable visit in a care home.

There was also quite a few carers that found spending time in nature helped calm them down and feel positive. The relaxation during the lockdown rules meant that there were some more opportunities to do go for a walk more often, or meet somebody in the park.

Those of us who couldn't leave home (perhaps because we were shielding) were still able to 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 was to know ourselves. If there were particular times, places or activities that became difficult, knowing that and planning to keep ourselves occupied really helped. Sometimes it's just taking a deep breath and counting to 10.

Here are some of the resources carers found helpful for their mental health:

  • 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 us look after our mental health and wellbeing.

If we could do with a chat with some others who understand what it's like to be caring for someone, take a look at our Mobilise Cuppas. Further, join our Mobilise community to connect with other unpaid carers.

If you'd rather have a chat 1-2-1, then we offer 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 them here.


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