• Gus Gale

Carers: Be Kind!

Show Yourself Some Kindness

For several weeks now, our lives have felt extremely unusual to say the least. Many shops, businesses and organisations have been closed for weeks. Schools have started to progress toward opening, but at the time of writing, majority of schools across Victoria remain closed. This has left many parents, carers and youth support workers wondering how to cope for long periods with young people in their care.

It’s important that as a carer, you are taking care of yourself so that you can provide the best support to young people in your care. You can’t pour from an empty cup – so your needs should be a priority. Try to be kind to yourself and make time for things to help navigate through these unpredictable times.

Read on for 4 ways to help get you started.

1. Do what you can to keep yourself calm:

I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done! If COVID-19 and its repercussions are making you feel stressed or anxious- you’re not alone. Take a moment to consider what keeps you calm or healthy and try to bring those things into your daily routine as best you can.

It can be something as simple as taking a walk in the fresh air, watching your favourite tv show or even just making sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. If you find yourself feeling overly anxious, switch off from the news – read enough to keep informed but set yourself limits if you’re feeling stressed out. Ensuring you are making time for these things should be your priority - no matter what.

2. Try to keep up a routine:

At the moment, there are so many uncertainties we have to navigate daily. Is my employment safe? Am I feeling financially secure? Will things ever feel ‘normal’?

Routine can help bring back feelings of normalcy and keep stress levels down.

How many of us have started forgetting what day of the week it is?

When our normal routines are disrupted, it can increase our stress levels. Try to bring back some control by keeping some structure to your daily life – whether you’re heading into the office or not. Little examples include keeping to the same bedtime, having breakfast at the same time each morning or adding some gentle exercise into your day each evening.

Sticking to a routine can help you keep the feelings of anxiety that may come with the uncertainty of our current situation under control.

3. Reach out and CONNECT

Connect with loved ones to feel better. It is one of the most effective ways to help look after ourselves. Whilst visiting friends and family has been limited to small groups, more and more people are embracing new ways to connect. Phone calls, video chats or connecting over social media gives you a space to share your thoughts and feelings or open the door to ask for support.

Everyone in the world is experiencing this together – so you don’t need to feel alone.

4. Prioritise Yourself

Self-care is essential. It is not something that should be put off, or something we do “when we have more time.” It essential for your health – both mental and physical. By looking after yourself, you’re staying healthy, which will allow you to be a better carer for the young people you may be working with. At the moment your health is your best asset, don’t take that for granted.

In this ever-changing climate we just need to take it day by day and remember that this period of isolation and social distancing is temporary.

Take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.

Lastly, thank you for being on the frontline. The nature of work for carers in residential environments means there is no option to work from home. Thank you for continuing to make a difference.

If you or someone you know is struggling:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Headspace 1800 650 890

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