Christmas is a challenging time for Carers, for many it can be overwhelming, stressful with mixed emotions such as anxiety, love and sadness. Some family members that you don’t often see until Christmas time may find it difficult to understand the complexities of a mental illness, which could lead to loved ones feeling rejected.
What’s important is that your loved one is reassured that their mental illness is not their fault, it’s not who they are and not a sign of personal weakness and, particularly in at this festive time to be themselves and have fun.
Talk to those friends and family who want to be understanding and compassionate and share the following with them, it will be useful for you too.
How to cope with difficult behaviour
- Don’t try to defend yourself
- It is better not to force decisions
- When responding, use “I” statements
- Acknowledge their experience as being real for them
- Be respectful and avoid confrontations
- When they are in pain, they may want to hurt others as much as they are hurting
- Try to discontinue the discussion without damaging the person’s self-esteem
Carers often respond to requests for help from the person they care for by instinctively and automatically trying to solve the problems themselves.
These solutions are usually quick fixes and temporary solutions and if we are honest, this may be exactly what you need to get through the festive period. However, be aware that this can stop your loved one from acting independently and postpone their need to deal with underlying issues.
Find out what is the predominant concern for the person and how you may be able to remedy this concern (e.g. removal of stressors; decreasing social isolation; having some downtime etc), emphasise that there is help available at this time and allow sufficient time to discuss the issue.
The way you cope helps towards reducing the negative impacts of stress. Your coping style is a combination of attitudes, behaviours, prior experiences and learning.
Do you put the needs of others ahead of your own wellbeing and feel the need to ‘fix’ the person you care for? Perhaps you are the type of carer that takes care of yourself as well as the person you care for.
There are two types of caring styles;
- Active – you try to actively alleviate their stress and work at controlling your loved one’s responses
- Avoidant – disconnecting from the situation and not directly addressing stress
Over the next few weeks, it’s really important that you try to work towards being an Active carer. This means;
- Taking care of you, your mind, body and your spirit
- Talking to someone about your concerns (call Arafmi anytime we’re open 24/7)
- Recording your feelings in a journal
- Doing an activity you enjoy, even if you only have an hour, go for a walk, read a book, call a friend…
7 ways to better equip yourself as a carer
- Inform yourself
- Formulate a plan of action
- Have some necessary phone numbers
- Take care of your physical, social and emotional wellbeing, exercise regularly
- Involve yourself in some hobbies
- Maintain a social life outside the home
So take a deep breath, we realise whilst Christmas is a time filled with love and laughter with families and friends past and present, it is also a difficult time for Carers and stressful. Please believe us when we say ‘you are not alone’ we are here to answer any questions or concerns that you have over this period.
If you have any questions about this article or need someone to talk to, you can call Arafmi any time of the day on 07 3254 1881. It’s comforting to know that when you need to talk – someone who understands will be there – at any hour.