Care for carers
Today, a large amount of people are looking after a member of their immediate or extended family who is ill or old, or both. Some people have to give up their job in order to look after someone and are getting financially into dire straits which can cause huge anxiety by itself. To look after someone can also be an immense emotional strain, especially if the relationship with that person was already difficult before they needed care.
Carers may find themselves chained to the house, never being able to go out without organising expensive sitters, and even if they manage to put such an arrangement in place, they still have to be back at home by a certain time, never feeling free to stay out as long as they want to. A lot of carers are focused on another person 24/7, looking out, listening out, never able to relax and turn the focus on themselves for a while. They start to forget what they need, they don't have an independent life anymore, they live in constant tension and apprehension. Some are too exhausted to even think of respite and how to organise it.
This is not only true for private carers; professional carers are in danger of burn-out as well. To be focused on other people's needs all the time is extremely demanding and it is very important to have regular breaks from this work and to remember your own needs: time on your own - preferably away from the "patient's" living space - a night out, a weekend away. Friends are immensely important; the danger is that we neglect them and let these relationships suffer or fizzle out, or when we do meet with friends all we talk about is ourselves and our difficult situation and forget to show some interest in them and their lives. Even very good friends run out of patience sometimes if we only talk about ourselves; and it's good for us to also hear and talk about other things than our own problems.
Counselling is another possible option for support. Counsellors are there to exclusively listen to you; you don't need to worry about them! There are charities and carer centres who offer activities and counselling for carers and there are the counsellors in private practice who can be there for you short or longer term, whatever you need. They can help you to remember your own needs, your own life, and maybe how to think more creatively: how to get more support or make more space for yourself, how to better nourish yourself, body, mind and soul, with proper food and fresh air, with inspiring conversations, books, films, art or craft etc. Your physical and mental health is important! Learn how to take care of yourself for a change!
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About Judith Schuepfer-Griffin
My name is Judith, and I'm writing in the way I do because I would like to make psychological thinking more accessible for everyone. I have noticed that it often helps to create a context within which new ideas make more sense. With my articles I'm trying to create that context and hopefully also an enjoyable reading experience.