6. Support for you the carer > Looking after your own health and wellbeing

Looking after your own health and wellbeing

3) Physical ways to cope with stress

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You may find some strategies work better for you than others. Here are some things to try.

  • Physical activity Being active is effective. Even going for a short brisk walk to give yourself some space and time for you could be planned as a regular part of your day. If the person you care for is stressed, exercise will help them too but it may have to be modified to suit any physical limitations.
  • Eat healthily When stressed we tend to eat more convenience foods which are higher in salt, fat and sugar. Try making extra portions of healthy food to freeze as a back up when you are really stressed or when you are tired and tempted not to eat much at all.
  • Rest and relax- this may be a warm bath, listening to your favorite music, or having a power nap after lunch.
  • Take a deep breath. It sounds simple but in a stressful situation taking a deep breath, counting to ten and not reacting impulsively can be the best way to cope in the short term. Removing yourself from the situation, go and make a hot drink, do something routine, anything which will change your focus so that when you come back you will be calmer and feel more in control.
  • Release your own body tension. Many people feel stress in their neck, shoulders and back muscles because they are under chronic stress. Tense muscles can be a problem when you have to do any physical or manual handling tasks. This can put you at risk of injury. Muscles can become tense over time without you being aware of this. Take a moment to stretch, move and release the muscle tension. There are relaxation techniques which may help. It may be useful to attend a relaxation session locally if you can. This also gives you some valuable “me time”. It can have positive effects on your physical and psychological well being by reducing the triggers which can increase heart rate and blood pressure.

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You may find some strategies work better for you than others. Here are some things to try.

  • Physical activity Being active is effective. Even going for a short brisk walk to give yourself some space and time for you could be planned as a regular part of your day. If the person you care for is stressed, exercise will help them too but it may have to be modified to suit any physical limitations.
  • Eat healthily When stressed we tend to eat more convenience foods which are higher in salt, fat and sugar. Try making extra portions of healthy food to freeze as a back up when you are really stressed or when you are tired and tempted not to eat much at all.
  • Rest and relax– this may be a warm bath, listening to your favorite music, or having a power nap after lunch.
  • Take a deep breath. It sounds simple but in a stressful situation taking a deep breath, counting to ten and not reacting impulsively can be the best way to cope in the short term. Removing yourself from the situation, go and make a hot drink, do something routine, anything which will change your focus so that when you come back you will be calmer and feel more in control.
  • Release your own body tension. Many people feel stress in their neck, shoulders and back muscles because they are under chronic stress. Tense muscles can be a problem when you have to do any physical or manual handling tasks. This can put you at risk of injury. Muscles can become tense over time without you being aware of this. Take a moment to stretch, move and release the muscle tension. There are relaxation techniques which may help. It may be useful to attend a relaxation session locally if you can. This also gives you some valuable “me time”. It can have positive effects on your physical and psychological well being by reducing the triggers which can increase heart rate and blood pressure.

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