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Caring for another – be that a child, an elderly parent or someone with a disability impacts every other relationship in your life – with your partner, your colleagues and mostly your sense of self. There are times when balancing the responsibilities as a carer can be challenging. These are times we may need to ask for support.

In Australia we are blessed with a plethora of services and Government support to help us manage the demands of working whilst caring for another. The Government resource Carer Gateway for example has an area dedicated to Caring for Me which includes sections such as Working and Caring and Mental Health and Wellbeing. Another great Government resource is Wellbeing for Parents and Carers.

Parents@Work run regular teleconference courses that focus on Care & Wellbeing for You and Your Family. We also run a series of special events (such as True Wellbeing Starts With You) which are focused on taking care of yourself as a working parent. Details and enrolment links are featured in our monthly newsletter and the Courses & Events section of the Parents@Work portal.

When times get really challenging

But there are times when we may need further one-on-one support to help us through emotionally challenging times. For example in the early days of parenthood. Perinatal anxiety and depression affects 1 in 6 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers – that’s nearly 100,000 new parents a year Australia wide. These figures are high but emotional stress can affect us at any stage in our caring life, which is why it’s important to have a strategy or go-to support for when things get particularly tricky.

Counselling or expressing your feelings with another (talking therapy as it’s known) can be very beneficial.  You can see a counsellor for any number of issues including:

  • Adjusting to parenthood
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Stress
  • Grief
  • Anger management
  • Addiction
  • Any mental health issues

Expressing how you feel to another does not necessarily have to include a ‘solution’. Sometimes just the act of talking or writing about it is enough to shift the overwhelming feelings you are experiencing.

The two most important things to remember as a working carer when times get tricky are:

1. Ask for support – what comes from this simple act will far outweigh any shame or guilt of having to ask for a helping hand. Family, friends, a counsellor or the resources listed above are good places to start.

2. Take care of yourself – to truly support another self-care and nurturing is a must, not an optional. Here’s a great article that expands on this further: Self-care is not selfish.

3. Appreciate all that you are doing – appreciation for oneself can be difficult when you are feeling stressed or drained, but it’s actually one of the best strategies for allowing yourself some breathing space when life feels hard or things just aren’t going your way. Even the smallest thank you to yourself can shift how you perceive your situation.