Looking after yourself

It is important to look after yourself too. Make sure you keep up with your own health appointments, including any vaccinations you need, such as the flu jab. If you are the main person looking after someone with cancer, you may be entitled to a free flu vaccination. If you are taking any medicines regularly, it is important you have a supply of these.

Take breaks

Having some time to yourself can help you relax and feel more able to cope. This can help the person you are caring for too. You may be able to arrange for some help in the home for a few hours, so you can have a break.

When you get time off, even if it is very short, try to relax or do something you enjoy. This might be reading, going for a walk or meeting friends.

Eat well

Try to eat healthily. If you can, make time to prepare and sit down for a cooked meal. If you don’t have time, perhaps you could ask a friend to help you. And remember to treat yourself to your favourite foods sometimes too.

Be active

Try to be active and get some fresh air every day. You could go for a short walk or just go outside for a while. This will help keep you more mentally alert, and may help you feel less tired and stressed.

Try to relax

You may want to learn relaxation techniques, using CDs, DVDs or podcasts. These may be available at your local library, or you can try searching online.

Some people find having a massage very relaxing and a great way to switch off for a short time. Your local Carers’ Centre or Macmillan Information and Support Centre may offer free complementary therapies for carers.

I really focused on the practical. I didn’t feel there was time or space to connect much with my feelings, and I put all my effort into supporting my wife through treatment.

Anthony, who cared for his wife Waheed

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep can be difficult too. Many people say that when they are caring for someone who is very ill, they find it difficult to relax at night. You may be thinking and worrying about them and this can keep you awake.

If you live with the person you care for, you may need to help them regularly during the night. Some services have care attendants who can help at night. Your local social services or the Carers Trust will be able to tell you what is available in your area.

We have information for people with cancer who have difficulty sleeping, which you may also find helpful.

I found that meditation, yoga and walking help and there are loads of interesting videos on YouTube. But just sitting with a cup of your favourite drink could be the break you need.


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