14 Oct Carers deserve to be happy too!
Do you look after someone with physical and/or psychological health problems? Does it impact on your happiness? If so, consider these statistics:
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, within any 12 month period approximately 20% of Australians are affected by depression and other common mental health disorders
Similarly, approximately 20% of Australians experience chronic pain (defined as having pain every day for at least 3 months) at any one point in time
More than 100,000 new diagnoses of cancer are made each year
And these are just a few of the many “ailments” people experience!
What does this mean?
It means that even at a very rough estimate there are probably 4-5 million Australians, at any one point in time, experiencing a significant and ongoing physical or mental illness.
And all of these people have “significant others” or carers.
Why is this important? Because research indicates that approximately one third to one half of these carers suffer significant levels of psychosocial distress.
So in Australia alone there are probably about 2-3 million carers who’re struggling to care for themselves and to care for their loved ones.
And, I suggest, these people could significantly benefit from some help!
So today I bring you a few simple tips for taking care of yourself, if you're one of these very important "significant others" so you can enjoy a better quality of life AND so you can care more effectively for your loved ones. Because you can't help any one else if you can help yourself…
Firstly, don't feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Remember, even if your primary goal is to love and care for another you need to remember that you can only do this if you're relatively fit and healthy yourself
Along the same lines, recognise that it's normal and appropriate to experience a range of emotions, in relation to your situation, from anger and frustration to guild and sadness. Accept these feelings for what they are, try not to fight them, and don't be hard on yourself for them being present
Do all you can to stay (realisitically) optimistic and to maintain hope. Your attitude and emotions will impact on how well you can support your loved one and they'll also impact on how well you feel yourself so it's in everyone's interest for you to try and focus on the positives, where and when they're there, and to encourage all around you to do the same
Reassure yourself that it's OK to have some fun and pleasure at times; this will boost your mood and as already mentioned, allow you then to support your loved one more effectively and with more energy
Understand that support and love are very important BUT oversupportive behaviours, such as doing everything for the other person, are not always ideal. That is, where and when possible try to help your significant other to do as much as they can for themselves so they continue, as best they can, to feel useful and compentent and so they don't lose confidence and control over their lives
Remember that there's no one perfect way to support others; it depends on you and them and the context and more. So do your best to support in a way that's best for you and them and as much as possible, support with and from your strengths
So, that's the short version of a huge topic on which much as been written. What do you think? Do you support another and if so, do you have any thoughts on what's most important? If so, we'd love to know what you think and we'd love, as always, for you to post your comments on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page HERE
Thanks in advance : )