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Self-care for Carers

Since becoming a carer of a person living with ME/CFS, you may have made some small or big changes in your life. You may have needed to change family priorities, or reduce or stop work entirely. Your life might be moving in a different direction than you previously imagined.

Self-care is an important part of life but can often be the first thing we stop when life gets busy or priorities change. Finding a few minutes a day to focus on activities that support you mentally, physically, and emotionally will place you in a better space to help others.

This page has been designed to support you in caring for yourself.

Looking after yourself

As a carer of a person living with ME/CFS, you’ll often put their needs before your own. It’s important to make sure you take a few minutes each day to care for yourself.

Self-care means different things for different people, but put simply, it is any activity that increases your physical, mental, or emotional well-being.

It’s important for you to decide what self-care activities are right for you and aim to take few minutes out of each day to do things that bring you joy.

Some common examples of self-care include making time to relax, spending time doing something you love, engaging in a mindful activity, learning a new skill, eating well or connecting with friends, family or other carers who understand what you are experiencing.

Self-care planning

Caring for a person living with ME/CFS can take a lot of time and energy and may leave people feeling time poor and exhausted. It’s important to take small steps towards self-care, making sure each step is achievable and can be a part of your daily routine.

Self-care can provide balance in your life and helps your body and mind to rest and unwind. Self-care can reduce stress, build resilience, increase your capacity to be more productive and make clear decisions.

When you start thinking about self-care, the first step is to plan one small self-care activity each day.

It may be as simple as taking 5 minutes to walk in the garden, 1 minute to breathe deeply, reading a paper/magazine or any small activity that brings you joy.

By making self-care a part of your daily routine and practice, self-care will soon become a part of everyday life.

The second step is to think about what support you have or would need to organise to take a longer break from caring for the person you provide care for. This might be something that you do once a week or once a month but is a planned activity.

If leaving the person you provide care for alone or in the care of another is not possible, choose an activity that you can do at home. Activities like taking a long bath, meditating, calling a friend for a catch up, gardening, art or any other activity you find relaxing.

It is important to set a routine for self-care as this can create stability for you and the person you provide care for. It takes up to six weeks to make self-care a part of your daily life

Here are some ideas you could include in your self-care plan:

  • Create a plan to hand over care for an hour or two to someone you trust
  • Make time to connect with other important people in your life
  • Think about what makes your heart sing
  • Write in a journal
  • Set boundaries
  • Learn to say no
  • Seek help from your social network
  • Explore meditation or yoga
  • Develop a routine
  • Relaxation podcasts and apps
  • Try a new activity
  • Mindfulness
  • Face-to-face and online peer support
  • Connecting with others through social media
  • Self-care plan template
Seeking extra support

Sometimes self-care means reaching out and seeking some extra help. There are different ways of doing this and can include talking to your doctor, a psychologist or counsellor, contacting a telephone or online support service, or talking to a carer support organisation to ask for some extra self-care resources.

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