A new year and new ways to be a healthy carer

Happy New Year everyone!

As ever, January is the season of lots of conversations about New Year’s resolutions and even if we are not someone who makes resolutions, it can be a time of wondering about the year ahead. Wondering whether or not we can make any changes that would make our life healthier, more the way we would like it to be.

Would you like things to be different? What would you like to be different? Do you have any control over that? If not is there something related to an area where you do have control that you would like to be different? Maybe something about yourself?

Have you made any resolutions? It is still January, how are they going? The chances are it is difficult, up and down, some days easy, some days less so, since changing ourselves and the way we like to do things or the habits we have, takes effort. Some days you remember, sometimes it is the last thing on your mind. Maybe you remember when you are doing something else but forget when you are in the moment and you say “next time……..”

Don’t give up and don’t be critical of yourself and don’t set yourself too ambitious a target. Success with a tiny change is much better than failure with too big a plan.

One of the problems with New Year’s resolutions is that they have a tendency to be black and white – we either succeed or we fail. “I am going to stop being irritated when …..”, “I am not going to worry over things I can’t control”.

If we think we have failed, for example we did get irritated or we did worry about something we couldn’t control, then often that demotivates us. We blame or criticise ourselves and think perhaps we are not strong enough and then assume we will never succeed.   

I read an article this week that talked about having an ID – an intention and a direction. Having an intention and a direction are things that we can’t fail at. Progress might be slow but that’s OK.

So, what might an intention or a direction look like?

My intention might be to pay a bit more attention to myself and my needs. My direction may be to try to find a bit of time most days to do something I enjoy for a short time, even if that is sitting with a cup of coffee listening to some music for 10 or 15 minutes. Being rather than doing! Have you heard the expression – we are human beings but we spend a lot of time as humans doing?

Something else I discovered this week was a little tool to help when we feel overwhelmed by things. It’s called HALT and you can use it when things just feel too much. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

You can ask yourself – am I hungry? If yes, then stop and have something to eat. Am I angry or anxious? If yes, then what am I angry or anxious about and can I pause and take a deep breath or two and let the feeling pass. Am I lonely? If yes, can I phone someone or plan to meet someone tomorrow. And finally, am I tired? If the answer to this question is yes, can I rest for a short while or do I need to take more care of myself to make sure I don’t let myself become exhausted?

Perhaps if you want an intention for the coming year it might be to do everything for the one we care for in a way which helps them feel safe, secure and valued as well as loved. Maybe it is not so much what we do but how we do it.

Wishing everyone peace in 2020.