For many carers, it is hard to find the time or energy to look after their own emotional wellbeing. However, some simple strategies can help you feel more in control.
Clear your mind – Your local Cancer Council may have relaxation and meditation recordings available online or as CDs – call 13 11 20 to check. You could also try a local yoga or tai chi class.
Get moving – Regular exercise has been shown to help with feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression. Remember that some exercise is better than none, and even a brisk walk around the block can help clear your head.
Take a break – It is important to take time to care for yourself. Do something you find relaxing such as listening to music, reading, taking a bath or having a massage. Respite care is available for short or longer periods and may give you the break you need.
Talk it over – Share your concerns with the person you care for, or with someone else you trust. Another option is to call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or Carers Australia 1800 242 636 to talk to someone about how you are feeling. They can listen to your concerns without judgement and help you find further support if you need it. You can also call Lifeline 13 11 14 for crisis support at any time of day or night.
Speak to your doctor – If at any stage you feel that you are not coping, they can refer you to a counsellor and prescribe a short course of medicine if needed.
Find out what to expect – Information can help you understand what to expect, and plan for any changes. This may make you feel more secure.
Be kind to yourself – No-one is a “perfect” carer. It is often a demanding role and everyone has bad days. Try to avoid using the words “should” or “must”, and accept that you are doing the best you can.
Join a support group – There are face-to-face, internet and telephone support groups for carers. These groups meet regularly to share their experiences. See Support and Information for more information about support groups.
Connect online – Use technology such as email, Facebook or a blog to stay in touch with family and friends. You can also visit Cancer Council Online Community to connect with others in a similar situation.
Accept help – If you appear to manage on your own, people may assume you’re okay, but they often do want to help. Reduce your workload by accepting help with practical tasks such as shopping or housework.