Looking after your wellbeing
For Mental Health Awareness Week, Dr Ruth Watson shares some tips to help you take care of yourself when you’re caring for a family member or friend with dementia.
Think about your basic needs
Are you getting enough sleep and drinking enough water? Are you eating regular, healthy meals? Listen to your body and don’t ignore physical signs that tell you that you need something.
You are not alone
You may feel isolated, but try to remain in regular contact with friends/family and make contact with other people who can understand how you are feeling.
Break the cycle
If you are feeling anxious, do something to interrupt your thoughts and distract yourself e.g. write your thoughts down, listen to music, have a bath/shower, sing a song, listen to a podcast, create something, laugh, breathe, use a grounding technique, dance, call or text someone, vacuum, tidy an area.
Take a moment for yourself
Practising regular meditation helps us to reduce our stress levels and build resilience – there are lots of potentially helpful apps available, but you can also try to just focus on your breathing.
Ask for and accept help
We often feel guilty asking for support, and tend to wait until we are desperate, before reaching out. Be kind to yourself by asking for help sooner and ask a wider circle of people – not everyone will be able to help, but it may surprise you how many people are happy to. And don’t forget, Dementia Carers Count is here for you too. Why not book one of our Live Online Learning sessions led by health and care professionals.
Practice self- kindness
Try to notice how you are feeling, and how you speak to yourself when you are finding things tough. Self-kindness involves actively comforting ourselves, responding just as we would to a close friend in need.
Dr Ruth Watson is an Associate Practitioner with Dementia Carers Count. Dr Watson is a Clinical Psychologist who completed her doctorate in 2004, she also works as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist within NHS Older Adult Mental Health services. She provides regular consultation to staff working on mental health wards, and Dementia liaison teams, regarding management of behavioural and psychosocial symptoms of dementia.