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  • Writer's pictureSFI Care Solutions

The Importance of Setting Boundaries as a Carer

Caring for a family member or loved one can be a rewarding job, but it can be easy to overlook your own wellbeing and dedicate your whole self (and the majority of your time) to the person you are caring for. Whether caring is your full-time job, or you are also holding down a career and/or family, setting boundaries is a crucial part of taking on a caring role. Read on for some information on the importance of boundary setting and some tips on how to do so.

Why set boundaries

When you first start caring for someone, you may feel that you need to give 100% of your time and effort. However, as in the well-known oxygen mask analogy, you’re no help to anyone if you don’t look after yourself first. If you don’t establish healthy boundaries, you may find yourself feeling stressed and frustrated, impacting your ability to do the very job you are devoting all your energy to.

How to tell if boundaries aren’t established

If you find yourself turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking or smoking, or you feel stressed or overwhelmed with, or resentful about, the lack of time and resources you have left for yourself, you probably haven’t set clear boundaries. Managing your own life on top of caring duties is an exhausting task, which is why you need to be clear about your limitations with the person you are caring for.

How to set boundaries

Talk about expectations with the person you are caring for. It is likely they won’t want you to burn yourself out and be left unable to care for them, so will probably welcome a clear set of boundaries.Additionally, if they know when and how care will be delivered, they too will feel the benefits of a stable routine. Be direct in what you can and can’t do, and what you will and will not tolerate.

When boundaries are violated

It is ok to say no! Your energy is a finite resource and you can’t give it all to one person. Saying no when you are faced with a situation that you feel unable to deal with will help you build confidence and set a precedent for the future.

Support

There are many on- and offline support networks for carers, including Carers UK and Carers Network.

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