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Good care starts with the self

July is Good Care Month and what better way to highlight this, than with carers?

Most caregivers are selfless and giving, but because they are so used to focusing on others, they often bypass care for themselves. In fact, ‘carers guilt’ is very common. Within even a few weeks of caring for another, to give to the self can feel awkward, even selfish, but we all need good self-care – especially carers.

‘You cannot pour from an empty cup.’

In filling yourself up by caring for yourself, you not only have more to give to others, but you will be in a better state of mind to cope and enjoy your day.

To highlight this further, there has been great research on telomeres by the Nobel prize winner, Elizabeth Blackburn. Within your body, at the end of your chromosomes sit telomeres, and they are like the glue at the end of your shoestring, stopping your chromosomes fraying and unraveling. At the beginning of life our telomeres are a nice long length, but they gradually shorten as we age.

In measuring telomere lengths in mothers caring for chronically ill children, Elizabeth and her team discovered that the stress of caring had dramatically shortened the mothers’ telomeres. But in this study there was hope. Some of the mothers’ telomeres remained at the right length and hadn’t shortened due to the stress of caring. These mothers had recognised that they needed to factor in their own self-care, to make sure they were to remain healthy and be there for their children.

We have no choice but to ensure our own self-care. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on yourself, if needed on a plane, before helping others with theirs.

Self-care comes in a number of forms. It’s not just about brushing your teeth and good hygiene; it is also about enriching your life – doing the things that make you feel better and put a smile on your face.

It could be connecting with good friends, or giving yourself time out to enjoy each day for a walk in nature, or it could be pushing back and knowing when to say ‘no’ to others if you are feeling drained.

Self-care helps us to remain resilient in the face of adversity, look after our health and wellbeing, and enjoy each day. What will you do today for yourself to practise self-care?

To read the first chapter of the award-winning book, “Who Cares?” for free, go to:

I just wish Id read your book years ago.” – Irene, caring for her husband

To learn about the author’s carers’ course, already empowering and improving carers’ lives, go to:

“I dont feel guilty since doing your course. I know I need to have time for me.” – Sue, caring for her husband with Parkinson’s

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