I am a psychologist – start saying NO and 7 more tips to put yourself forward

ALWAYS putting others first can have a real impact on your health – remember that taking care of yourself is also important.

Being a carer is difficult, as one in eight adults in the UK know. A whopping 6.5million of us are caring for a loved one, and according to charity Carers UK, 58% of them are women.


Being a caregiver is hard, and it can be harder to remember to take the time you need to take care of yourself.

You may be caring for sick parents, a child or a sibling with extra needs – and that’s on top of household chores, paying bills and sending kids to school. ‘school.

Self-care can quickly end up at the bottom of the pile. And with 72% of caregivers reporting having experienced mental illness and 61% physical illness, as a result of care, protecting your mind and body is essential. But that doesn’t have to mean going all out on an expensive spa day.

“If you believe you shouldn’t have needs, that belief manifests in the choices you make and your priorities, which will lead to burnout, resentment, self-criticism, and exploitation,” says Rod Vincent, co-author of The Super-Helper Syndrome with fellow licensed psychologist Jess Baker. “You have needs – everyone has them. It’s about knowing what your needs are and paying attention to them.

Here’s how to save valuable time for yourself that will help you and the people you care about.

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Understand that taking care of yourself is not selfish

Try not to feel guilty about spending time on yourself, so you feel better rested


Try not to feel guilty about spending time on yourself, so you feel better rested

Wanting to have time for yourself is not selfish, even though we are sometimes made to feel that it is.

“There’s a view that if you’re a working woman looking after your family, it should always revolve around other people and it’s wrong to take care of yourself,” says Jess. But changing the language you use in your head can help crush the guilt.

“Be aware of thoughts containing the words ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t have done this’, as these are signs of irrational thinking. Without realizing it, these are internal commands that we try to follow, and in doing so, we disregard our own needs,” she says. “Instead, use language such as: ‘I do my best’, ‘I deserve to have my own needs met’,

and “The better I take care of myself, the better I can take care of others.”

Put time for me in the newspaper

Make personal care a priority by arranging for it to be as important as your job


Make personal care a priority by arranging for it to be as important as your job

One of the easiest ways to take care of yourself is to write it down in your diary.

“It’s not so much about ‘finding time’ as it is about redefining your priorities. Imagine you book a meeting with an important client or someone you love – give yourself time with the same priority. You wouldn’t cancel at the last minute or find an excuse to pull out, which is what we so often do when it comes to ourselves,” says Jess.

“As for what you do with this time, think about what you like to do, as opposed to what you think you ‘should’ be doing, and don’t beat yourself up for all the things you don’t do.

“Giving yourself this time is going to replenish and re-energize you, so you’ll feel better about yourself – and it will have a positive impact on the people around you.”

Assess your relationships

Assessing your relationships can let you know who is a true friend and who is draining your resources


Assessing your relationships can let you know who is a true friend and who is draining your resources

When attention comes naturally to you, it can end up becoming something you do in other relationships as well, which can wear you down.

“Look at the people around you, like your partner and your friends,” Rod says. “Are they really friends or are they also people you help? You have to have people who give you as much as you give them, and even more, if you help others a lot,” says Rod.

If someone is draining your resources, Rod says, “Understand your limits, know what you’re willing to do and not do, who you’re going to help, how and when. Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t apologize. Saying, “I’d like to help, but it’s not practical for me right now” is a polite and clear way to do it. »

Don’t let resentment build up

Are you starting to resent the person you are caring for?

Jess says this usually happens if you, the person you are caring for, or both of you ignore your needs.

“Discuss how you feel and what your needs are,” says Jess. It could be space, a change in routine, or more help.

“Having a tough conversation is better than waiting, because resentment doesn’t go away on its own but builds up like water behind a dam – and when it breaks it can hurt anyone.”

Ask for help

Don't be afraid to ask others for help - this will put you in a better position to continue helping others


Don’t be afraid to ask others for help – this will put you in a better position to continue helping others

Ironically, caregivers often find it difficult to ask for help themselves.

“Having someone to talk to who will listen to you rather than always being the one listening is something we all need,” says Rod. “So don’t feel like a burden for asking that.”

Be specific about the type of help you need, adds Jess. “You may not want a friend to come up with solutions, just to listen. There are also 24-hour helplines that you can unburden yourself with. You can call the Samaritans free of charge on 116 123 .

Carers UK, meanwhile, connects carers with other carers, so you can chat with someone who knows what you’re going through. The charity also helps you navigate the care system, with advice on everything from managing a loved one’s affairs to managing hospital stays and end-of-life care.

Remember you have a choice

No matter how much you love the person, caring for someone can leave you feeling trapped. This may be due to a lack of money or support, or feeling exhausted from all that you have to do. Some of this is out of your control, but watch what you can do.

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“Honestly assess your situation and realize what your options are,” suggests Rod. This could include seeking external support from the Carers Trust (Carers.org), which provides financial advice to unpaid carers and can put you in touch with local groups that provide respite care and short breaks to that you can get away for a few nights for a good rest.

Rod suggests changing your mindset can also lighten the load. “Realizing that you have a choice is beneficial, even if you choose to continue doing what you are doing. Choosing to move on because you love that person and want the best for them and choose to do so, can make you feel liberated rather than locked in.

exist in the moment

Even tearing off small chunks of time can help.

Rod and Jess suggest rethinking the way you do everyday, mundane tasks and using those times as a restful mental break.

“There’s a lot of scientific data to back up the benefits of being present on purpose,” says Jess.

She recommends listening to soothing music or guided meditation — try the Buddhify app — when walking the dog or grocery shopping, to calm and ground yourself.

Rod adds: “I often sit for a few minutes and just focus on my breathing. It gets me out of the daily rush or panic I might be in to do something.

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