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Breaking down barriers

Breaking down barriers

“Look after yourself” – it’s advice that you’ve heard many times before, and it’s easy for someone to say, but sometimes not so easy to put into practice.

However, self-care as a carer is crucial for three main reasons:

  • Research suggests that looking after a person with dementia can be a source of chronic stress. For this reason, caring for someone with dementia may have an impact on physical health and on psychological well-being by increasing the risk of depression. In addition, it may affect our brain health and affect cognitive functions like memory and attention.

  • So it is vital to take action to try to manage the stress associated with caregiving for someone with dementia to minimise the impact that it has on your health and well-being.

 

  • If you look after your health and well-being, including your social and emotional needs, you will likely reduce the impact of stress and be able to care for your loved one for longer, and to give them better care.

 

Thoughts as barriers: All this makes perfect sense but sometimes some of our own attitudes, beliefs, and even negative thought patterns can act like a barrier, preventing us from taking care of ourselves.

If you have ever had any of the following thoughts then you are putting barriers in your own way;

- Putting my own needs first is selfish

- I don’t have time to exercise

- Asking for help is a sign that I’m inadequate

- If I don’t do it, no-one will

- I am responsible for my partner’s/parent’s health

Retraining your thoughts: It is well worth taking a moment to examine your own attitudes and beliefs towards taking care of yourself and the caring process itself. Take time to actually notice whether you have any of the thoughts listed above. Once you have identified recurring negative, or unhelpful thought patterns, you can then try to counteract them with positive thoughts and actions, which in turn may help you to manage stress.

Try to actively notice when such thoughts occur – it may be helpful to jot them down in a diary, and to write down a more positive statement or interpretation of the situation beside the negative one. It will take a little time to retrain your thoughts but remember taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s sensible.

Practicing present-mindedness: Another really helpful strategy for staying away from negative thoughts is to practice present-mindedness. 


Why is attention important?

This short film highlights the importance of being present-minded, and some ways you can help yourself to stay in the moment.

 


 

Once you’ve begun to identify the barriers that may be preventing you from taking good care of yourself, you can start to make changes to your behaviour in order to give your own needs more priority.

 

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