We had a great time at the recent Carers UK AGM last week. Meeting amazing carers and colleagues from various Carers organisations. The Carers UK state of caring booklet was given out and it was a difficult read. We learnt that 72% of carers said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring. We also learnt that carers save the NHS a whopping £132 billion on the backs of this. That's a cost of another NHS! So if 72% of carers have mental ill health due to caring and are probably on the whole not accessing any mental health services then we need another NHS just for them.
So as we are still in the worst level of austerity that the UK has ever faced and no let up in the immediate future then we all need to do what we can to stay well because if we go down then so does the person we care for. At the AGM we had to work in small groups to think through some top tips for staying healthy and connected. At Not a Care in the World, we think about this all the time. We need time for ourselves before we can be any use for the person we care for let alone that upcoming looming doctors appointment or social worker assessment. So here are our 6 top tips:
1. Breathe. Never forget this. Slow and steady and relax the whole body.
2.Take a moment for yourself. Put on your favourite song, read a magazine, watch your favourite film.
3. Talk with others. Find a close confident, other carer or counsellor who can listen and not judge. A problem shared is a problem halved.
4. Know your rights. Don't be bullied by 'cuts' or 'criteria.' We have carers rights, human rights, we have the disability discrimination act and multiple layers of public laws that protect us and the person we care for from our burn out.
5. Be comfortable saying 'no.' Its only when we value our 'yes' that our 'no' means our 'no.' We must value our boundaries, our own mental health and our space and time. Don't be coerced into caring, its a collective responsibility and the state authorities need to listen and respect our own wants and needs.
6. Be your forgotten creative self. Have a hobby even if its 10 minutes a day. Not to be judged but just for yourself. We are all born creative, there is no mystique of talented at birth artist, we can all think outside of the box and dream.