Peer Support Personal Safety

As carers we are used to looking after others, it can be part of our DNA, a habit we form and often a part of ourselves that we really value. What could be more natural than starting to look after even more people?

Hands up if you have joined a Facebook group, peer support group or even a Mobilise Cuppa for Carers and found yourself offering advice, help and support.

Now keep your hand up if you’ve found yourself impacted by the conversations when others are upset so are we, when they celebrate things we join in.

I love that this is how we are, this is what makes community. These groups become a place where we all contribute and where we can all offload and be heard. This is a big part of the Mobilise way. "We’re in this together!”

Time for a BIG BUT! I resisted the urge for a comedy photo here!

We are also each responsible for looking after ourselves, not letting other people’s emotions become our own, not letting these things negatively impact us or add to our burden.

A few scenarios…

Easier said than done right? It might take some practise and some working out what works for us. As always let’s look at the things that work for other carers:

1. Remember our role

If this is a good safe well managed space there will be moderators, hosts or facilitators that are part of a bigger structure and will have good stewardship and safeguarding processes in place.

“I’m a friend not a fixer.”

2. We are not alone

We don’t have to be the first to jump in and help. If people have already replied to a post on Facebook and have showed understanding, empathy or shared some tips of what might help the post author may already have what they need. They might not value 101 comments.

3. Remember the power of offloading

We all have our day where we need to share what’s happening with us, and just writing things down or saying things out loud is often the most powerful thing. We don’t need people to do anything more than listen.

4. Know our boundaries

Have days or times where we switch off. Don’t engage or don’t turn up. The world will keep turning! Check your social media privacy settings and think before connecting individually with people.

5. Deal with it

If someone else’s story leaves us with strong emotions do actively seek a way to deal with it. Here are some suggestions:

- Talk to someone. Whilst still maintaining confidentiality, we can still talk to others about how we feel. You can always book a free individual support call, just knowing this is scheduled can help you to park feelings.

- Distract yourself. Some of our community have their go to things that help - a comedy clip, pictures of friends and family, inspiring pictures of nature, crafts, music, gardening, an easy watch TV programme, Charlie Mackesy illustrations / books (The boy, the horse, the fox and the mole), a good book, head to the gym or if all else fails a good piece of cake. That's why we always offer a moment of uplift at the end of a cuppa.

- Practise visualisation. For example, imagining your thoughts and worries being leaving, drop them in a river and watch them float safely away out of sight.

The difference between offloading and ranting

Getting things off our chest or “venting” can be helpful. But I love this piece of advice from Dr Brendan Kelly based on the Buddhist concept of ‘right speech'.

When expressing our emotions be sure to label them as feelings rather than facts. It can help to write down how we feel beforehand avoiding harsh words against others, only saying what is true, speaking in a way that promotes understanding, using

a reasonable tone of voice and ensuring what we say is honest.

What's next?

To build our support network, why not join Mobilise's virtual cuppas which run from Monday to Friday. Join us for laughs, a fun chat and real deep conversations! If that is too big a step, visit our Facebook community to connect with other unpaid carers.