Christmas can often be a lonely and stressful time for people but for Australia’s 2.7m unpaid carers, particularly young carers (25 and under), the added pressure of caring for a loved one can make the festive season just that little bit more challenging.
While unpaid carers usually take on the role willingly to improve someone’s quality of life, LiveBetter’s Carer Gateway team have put together some advice for carers to remind them to look after themselves so they can continue to play an important role in the lives of the people they care for.
- Don’t be hard on yourself – you and the person you are looking after deserve a break. If you are exhausted, you will struggle to cope and care and have no enjoyment yourself.
- Keep it simple – don’t overdo it. Routines are good, familiarity is reassuring and regular mealtimes will help to reduce pressure.
- Trust your instincts – if plans are no longer appropriate, feel free to change your mind. If you think your loved one will be unsettled, cancel or shorten your plans to fit the situation.
- Ask for help– you are important too and as a carer it is common to feel huge responsibility. Rest, delegate tasks and say no to things to ease stress.
- Stay positive – something may go wrong, it’s inevitable. Don’t panic, instead keep it in perspective and keep moving forwards.
- Plan ahead – many organisations, shops and chemists close over Christmas or have a limited service. Ensure you supports organised, additional medication and supplies.
- Admit it’s difficult – there is no shame in finding being a carer difficult and it can be a relief to say so. Ask for help when you need it and be explicit about how people can help you.
- Talk to other carers – you can get comfort and support by talking to other carers in the same situation. Check online groups and forums, or telephone helplines (but check Christmas opening times).
- Find time for self-care – go for a walk, read, have a relaxing bath, anything that gives you the time to reset and focus on you. Stay connected to social groups or caring circles – there’s a good chance the person you are reaching out to might be needing that connection too.
- Maintain balance – Eating food that keeps you energised and getting enough sleep can set you up and is proven to help you cope with extra stress and anxiety.
- Access services for carer support – Some services, such as Carer Gateway, remain operational over the festive season excl public holidays. Call 1800 422 737 or online supports are available 24/7 at carergateway.gov.au
- Enjoy yourself – while everything might not go as planned there will also be aspects of your day that are beautiful and meaningful.
Here are some important numbers should you be needing some additional support during this time:
Carer Gateway: 1800 422 737
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Family Helpline: 1800 643 000
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Crisis Care Helpline: 1800 199 008
Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339
For more information about Carer Gateway and how it can support you or someone you know in a caring role call 1800 422 737 or visit www.livebetter.org.au/carer-gateway-nsw/