Caring for someone can mean you often come into contact with a range of professionals. It can feel intimidating or confusing to discuss the care needs of your loved one. It can also feel difficult to speak up for yourself and express how you feel and what your needs are. This can include when talking to service providers, but also in your day-to-day life with friends, family and others.
Our Being Heard guide explores self-advocacy from a range of perspectives. From knowing your rights to how to manage emotions and speak with confidence, the guide walks you through how to be heard. You can access the full guide here.
It’s not always easy to make yourself heard if you feel weighed down by your own emotions. As a carer, you may find that your own wellbeing takes a back seat to your caring responsibilities. This might include recognising and managing your own emotions and spending time on your own wellbeing.
While that’s understandable, it’s important to remember that you and how you are feeling matters.
The first step to making yourself heard is to understand what you are feeling and experiencing. Sometimes caring challenges can leave you feeling a range of emotions – like sadness, guilt, anger, stress and anxiety. At times, you may feel a combination of these emotions, which can make them hard to unravel.
There are a few ways you can start to get to know what you are experiencing better.
Talk it through
Feeling isolated and lonely can make problems feel overwhelming. During the pandemic, half of carers in Wales said they felt lonely and isolated. Reaching out and talking through how you are feeling can help to lessen the strain of feeling isolated.
You may have friends or family who you feel you can talk to. Or you might want to speak to people who understand more clearly what you are going through – like other carers. Our online wellbeing support includes Me Time and Care for a Cuppa sessions. In these sessions, you can meet other carers and get advice from professionals. There are also sessions available to help you recognise and manage your emotions – such as dealing with stress and anxiety, managing anger, mindfulness, and building confidence.
If you would prefer to speak to someone 1-1 we have a Listening Support Service. This service offers a series of phone calls with a Carers Wales volunteer – someone who has experience of caring and is able to lend a supportive listening ear to you.
Slow it down
Life as a carer can feel so busy that it might seem like you have no time to stop and slow down. However, even taking five minutes a day to slow down and focus on yourself and your wellbeing. That might mean going outside for a quick walk where you can. Or you can try doing some mindful exercises. Click here to try some short mindfulness practices.
One way to help you get a handle on your emotions is to take a pause when things feel overwhelming. Go somewhere where you can focus on yourself for a few minutes. This could be while completing a mundane activity like making a cup of tea. Take three deep breaths and check in with your body and how you feel. Are your shoulders tensed? Is your breathing fast? Is your stomach clenched? Simply noticing how you are feeling can help you to release some of the tension and feel more self-aware.
Move with it
Moving your body can help you to manage your emotions and understand more about how you are feeling. Physical movement can help with emotions like anxiety and stress by giving you something to focus on. You don’t have to go running or do a high-impact exercise class to feel the benefits of moving more. A gentle walk, stretching and releasing tension in areas like your face, hands and shoulders can help.
Write it out
Writing about how you are feeling can help you to recognise and manage your emotions. You could try keeping a journal where you write out your thoughts and emotions. Or you could keep a mood diary so you can recognise patterns in your life. Maybe you find mornings more difficult than evenings, or you feel angry or anxious as certain events come up over a month or year. A mood diary can help you to spot these patterns so you are more aware of times when you may find life more challenging.
Get yourself heard
Advocating for your loved one is also about knowing that you are being heard by the people and services you come into contact with. The Being Heard guide discusses ways that you can manage these interactions so you can be confident you are communicating what you want as clearly as possible. For more advice on ways to communicate how you feel and what you want please read the full guide here.
Historic day for unpaid carers as Carer’s Leave Bill receives Royal Assent
A Bill that gives employees across Great Britain the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for older,…
Carer’s Leave Bill: one step away from becoming law
The Carer’s Leave Bill has today successfully passed its third reading in the House of Lords, meaning it is now…
Statement on the independent evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act / Datganiad ar werthusiad annibynnol o Ddeddf Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol a Llesiant (Cymru).
Carers UK wins student volunteering award from top London university
Carers UK is delighted to have won the LSE Voluntary Organisation of the Year Award for 2023. Over the past…
Got a question about caring?
Every day we hear from people who need help with looking after a friend or family member
Become a member for free
Joining Carers UK is free and takes just a few minutes.