I’m a caregiver of someone with mental health concerns and I’m having a hard time taking care of myself.
Juliet Haynes, MSW, RSW, Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator
Being a caregiver can be challenging at the best of times! It can be even more so now, given that many of the sessions, drop-ins, and other supportive resources we rely upon are cancelled. And the solace we get from other comforts – like church or other community groups – is also suddenly missing from our lives. Even maintaining relationships with friends and family is put to the test as we all try to maintain a two-metre distance between ourselves.
These are tough times, but here are some tips that might be helpful as we try and get through it:
- Stay informed while also limiting media – refer to reliable sources.
- Practice hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and regularly disinfect common areas.
- Keep your immune system strong – eat well, sleep well, take vitamins, drink water, get fresh air where possible, even if it is by opening a window.
Anticipate and address stress reactions:
- Normalize, empathize, and validate feelings.
- Be wary of increased substance use.
- Reduce potential conflict, blame, shame and stigma – seek to understand rather than judge – believe that we are all doing the best that we can.
- Realize the situation is temporary, that this too will pass and the majority of people will be okay.
- Remember we are resilient. We have overcome adversity in the past and we will recover.
- As much as possible, maintain your routine and keep schedules consistent. Ask how can you still do these things, albeit differently.
- Shift expectations and priorities.
- Make lists and check things off.
- Set boundaries – strive for work-life balance.
- Take breaks, especially media breaks!
- Recognize those things within your control and choices you can make (hint: we only have power over ourselves and our reactions/responses!)
- Meet basic needs – attend to personal hygiene.
- Be mindful of self-care.
- Practice relaxation by slowing down your breathing and scheduling “nothing time.”
Practice “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing”
- Use virtual means to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and other supports.
- Schedule regular check-ins with others.
- Are you living with people or pets? – hug them! Hug a teddy bear! Give yourself some self-love!
Focus on the positive and what you can do:
- Honour others’ contributions to improving the situation, positive news stories, look for the good.
- Practice gratitude.
- Discover meaningful activities – there are many options online!
- Find ways to practice creativity.
- Discover fun, enjoyable, uplifting distractions and activities.
- Read inspirational material, affirmations.