Wellness for carers and parents

You know what they say – supporting someone isn’t easy and can be physically and emotionally draining. This can affect your mental health if you give and give with little time for yourself. Wellness for carers is step number one.

Acknowledge your feelings

Going through a diagnosis and being a carer can bring out a range of emotions. From the seven stages of grief after a diagnosis, to exhaustion and frustration with the daily grind. Your feeling are normal and there are good reasons why you feel that way. You might feel:

  • sad
  • overwhelmed
  • frustrated
  • exhausted
  • anticipatory fatigue
  • a lack hope
  • blame or guilt
  • angry
  • confused

Look after you: wellness for carers

The first rule of first aid is to look out for your own safety. You can’t help others if you aren’t safe and well.

Positive Mental Health

Using the positive psychology model of PERMA+, maintaining a proactively positive mental health can be done through:

  • Relationships – have a good network of trusted friends and family that provide you with connection, company and support.
  • Positive Emotions & Engagement– practice gratitude and/or mindfulness, or make time for things that you enjoy like going for walks outdoors or gardening or reading.
  • Physical Activity & Nutrition & Sleep – look after your body by feeding it with nutritious food, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity. You’ll have more energy and feel better when your well and healthy.
  • Accomplishment and Meaning – as tempting as it might be to stop all work to be a full time carer, maintaining a work life separate to your role as a carer can help give you balance, accomplishment, and an identity beyond that of constant carer.

Combine all these things together as part of your wellness plan as a carer. Build a daily habit of deep breathing, and put our simple 7 rules for positive mental health into practice.

Support groups & Counseling

There are groups specific to autism, like Autism SA, that can provide advice and support specific to particular disabilities.

There are also groups that advocate for carers:

Carers Australia is the national body that advocates for unpaid carers in Australia. State based groups can provide counseling, support packages and respite.

Carers Gateway provides emotional and physical support for carers.

Remember that you’re not alone and there is support out there for you.

Taking steps forward

Taking steps forward to address any disabilities, barriers, or areas of intervention, can help provide hope. Having a network of experts and therapists around your child helps. It works best when they can work together, and have a holistic approach to developing skills with your child. Also, when those therapists can work with you as parents to learn how to approach things, and with school to support teachers to be consistent in their approaches, everyone is working towards the same goals. You can start to see changes and improvements, sometimes quite quickly when working intensively, and this gives hope. At the start, it can be draining to think of the journey ahead and wonder if things will ever change. But there are success stories of children who with intensive intervention became independent young adults with jobs and happy friendships.

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