Being a supporter during the COVID-19 pandemic

For those who provide dedicated support to others, there are ways to adjust to manage your own mental health, and in turn theirs, against the backdrop of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone, but it's a particularly difficult time for people who act as primary supporters of others including the elderly, those with a disability or those with a mental health condition. Concerns about limitations to care, as well as the health of others, can add to the mental strain.

Supporters need to make sure they are taking care of their own wellbeing. This will ensure they can continue delivering quality care. There are several strategies available that will help people manage their mental health while caring for someone.

Look after yourself

Between providing support and other responsibilities like work and family, it’s crucial that you take time to do things for yourself. While some of these activities have likely been limited by the coronavirus, you should try to adjust as best you can so that you still find a way to do things you enjoy.

If you normally relieve stress at the gym, find a way to workout at home, perhaps through social media. Missing your social fix with friends? Arrange a catch up by phone or through video conferencing apps like FaceTime or House Party. It doesn’t matter what it is that puts you in a good space – as long as you try to find a way to do it on a regular basis.

Be prepared

It’s no secret that these are uncertain times. Rather than let the uncertainty overwhelm you, do your best to focus on the things that you can control. That includes being prepared for an event which impacts your ability to provide the normal levels of support.

One way to prepare is to download and develop an emergency care plan. Doing so will mean that essential details, such as contact information, daily schedules, lists of medication and any issues with mobility or communication, are available to the appropriate people in the event that you suddenly have to withdraw from your normal role.

Follow the rules

With so many recommendations and guidelines in place, it can be hard to keep track. However, make sure you are being diligent and doing everything you can to protect yourself and the person you support. Wash your hands regularly with soap (try for 20 seconds each time), cough into your elbow and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Be sensible about physical distancing and stay across any updates on preventative measures.

And above all else, remember that your own wellbeing needs attention too, and that your role is an important one for the community.

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