September has been a time of children returning to school and more people returning to work. We have also seen Covid-19 cases begin to increase again and talk of a 'second wave' that has been noticed in other countries.
Against this backdrop our monthly priorities poll is our snap shot of what is important to carers right now.
We're still concerned about the virus but our highest priority (now more than ever) is our own stress and anxiety.
What is impacting our stress and anxiety levels?
Some key themes emerged in the answers people gave:
Caring without support - and seeing no end is sight
Caring without a break for longer than ever
Uncertainty about the future
New routines where those we care for are returning to school or support services that are different to before
"My life is taken over for the care of others without help and I am stuck."
"Adjusting to the new normal and managing the family and how they each adapt to their own routines."
"I'm finding it more stressful the longer the situation continues. I haven't had a break."
"I need to be aware of my own stress levels and how to deal with this."
Carers have shown real resilience through the ups and downs of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. A large number of practical challenges have been overcome in the last few months. It is clear that physical support is needed now - someone to step in and take some of the load and give us a chance to recharge.
Carers are also more aware than ever before of the importance of taking care of their own mental health, their stress and anxiety is a priority for them. This could be seen as a real opportunity for change - we are saying it matters most to us.
Our concerns have not gone away. We are feeling there is less we can do now to reduce our risk any further. Carers are very aware of how other people are behaving and how this could contribute to an increase in cases.
"The resurgence of the virus is very worrying as I care for someone who is vulnerable."
"For the next 18 months as a carer this will mean thinking around things constantly"
"It hasn't gone away, there are a lot of selfish idiots around."
So what now?
As carers many of us have lived with levels of stress and anxiety that we have become used to. Actually admitting that this is a high priority for us could be a helpful thing, perhaps now is the time to take action. Maybe this is where we can focus for a while. A few first steps to consider:
Speak to your GP
Find out what is available locally and online, it might take testing a few things out to find the right thing for you.
Revisit some of Mobilise's resources such as 'Coping with change and uncertainty', 'How to care for yourself when there is no time', 'How carers promote strong mental health', and 'five wellbeing quick wins'
Join our Mobilise Cuppa for Carers, on where you can connect with other unpaid carers.
We might even come out of this situation with a better toolkit of things that help us in a crisis and more able to focus on our own needs. Remember though we don't always have to go through the pain of first hand experience we can learn from others too.