Find out how to avoid feeling low in winter months, undoubtedly, as a family caregiver, you will be under more pressure than usual due to the impact the cold can have.
There are around 7 million family caregivers in the UK, equating to around 1 in every 10 people. If you are a family carer then you may be at risk of suffering from the winter blues or worse.
Depression is very common amongst family carers, and it is thought to be quite a normal response to a very challenging situation. It is not unusual for a caregiver to feel low or to develop depression as a consequence of the demands they face in their caregiving position.
A caregiver may forgo their own needs for the needs of their loved one both physically and mentally. The challenges faced by a family caregiver can vary greatly, but can strain even the strongest of people.
Common feelings of frustration, of negativity, anger, sadness and an overall feeling of exhaustion are common.
Key symptoms that you may be suffering with the winter blues or depression:
- Feeling sad a lot of the time without any particular explanation
- Feeling hopeless
- Struggling with a lack of sleep, or wanting to sleep too much
- Loss of appetite, or comfort eating
- General fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- A loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
- Becoming angry easily
- Feeling like everything you do is not good enough
- Spending too much time online
- Struggle focusing on tasks
- Wishing you could run away from the situation
For family caregivers, there is a particular risk with feeling low in that the demands on them are not just physical and mental but you also have the emotional issues to deal with and the changed relationship with the spouse or parent you are caring for.
Avoiding The Winter Blues As A Family Caregiver
If you suspect you may have depression and not just the winter blues, then please do seek help. Speak to a friend or relative you trust, or speak to your GP. Depression is a serious illness and there is help available should you need it.
If you are coping well, or well enough, then the best thing you can do is to work hard to prevent the winter blues. Try to do the following to ensure winter does not cause you to feel low, at an already challenging time:
- Reach out – do not be afraid to speak to friends, family members or even your GP for support.
- Prioritise yourself – it is important to prioritise your health because if you are not in the best shape mentally and physically, you can’t care for your relative.
- Exercise – even just a brisk walk can release happy hormones and give you a real mood boost.
- Eat well – your need to be nourished for energy, so take care to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
It is also so important that you do seek out respite if you need it. There are services available so contact your local council, social services or GP for more information. You may also want to consider home care to help take the pressure off your situation by providing care to your loved one in their home. Professional carers can help in many ways – from popping in to give you a couple of hours to yourself every day to living in full-time. The most important thing is to reach out for help and support when you need it. You may be a caregiver, but you deserve to be looked after too.