Battling Loneliness as a Caregiver: 5 Top Tips

The role of caregiver can come with a wide range of feelings, each ebbing and flowing into play as you move through this journey. On one hand, it can feel like a great honour and privilege and on the other, it can feel rather stressful and lonely. In fact, statistics from Carers UK show that 81% of carers have felt lonely or isolated as a result of looking after a loved one*. So, whether you’re new to caring or have been doing so for quite some time, it might help to remember that it’s only human to hold complex emotions about the way this role affects you and your mental/emotional state – especially when juggling personal matters with professional responsibilities.

In this article, we’ll focus on some simple ways you can beat feelings of loneliness and isolation. We know it isn’t always as easy as a quick coffee catch-up with a friend, but one or more of these five tips could be just the trick to help you balance your two worlds and support you during difficult times… 

  1. Prioritise Caring for Yourself

Being a caregiver can often mean putting others before yourself, which can make it feel counterintuitive or difficult to prioritise your own needs. However, practising self-care doesn’t mean neglecting yourself or the other loved ones in your life, nor does it have to be another time-consuming activity to ‘add to your to-do list’. Listening to a podcast as you get dressed, journalling a few lines each day, or creating 10-minute rituals for yourself (like a quite cuppa in the garden) are just some ways you can show yourself more compassion with limited time.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations

In the modern age we live in, many people are prone to putting too much pressure on themselves – especially when it comes to the things and people they really care about. Frequently doing so, though, can lead to over-extending yourself and working beyond capacity. In turn, this can then lead to spending less time with friends and loved ones, causing you to feel lonelier.

As a caregiver, it might help you to address the current expectations toy have for yourself and adjust them accordingly. It’s important to know your capacity, know what the best circumstances are for you to flourish, and to respect those conditions. Perhaps this means handing over some responsibility to someone else or saying “no” to taking on an extra project at work to help you maintain balance and alleviate some pressure.

  1. Establish a Caregiving Community

Regularly keeping in touch with friends and family can be great for helping you to feel less isolated, whether you’re a caregiver or not. That said, there’s something truly healing about having a community of people who just “get it”. Who understand the realities of your life, responsibilities and the range of emotions that comes with it.

While your day in the life won’t necessarily be the same as another carer’s, you can share similar hurdles and have a mutual understanding of what caregiving truly entails. Carer support groups are available across the UK, offering safe spaces to support one another and take some time out.

  1. Be Mindful of Social Media Usage

Social media can be a fantastic tool for staying connected. You might even find that an online caregiving community works better for you than meeting up in person. However, social media can also intensify feelings of loneliness, as it enables individuals to compare their social lives with what the rest of the world is doing.

It’s near impossible to be completely disciplined when it comes to social media, so it may help to allocate specific times to spend online, turn off notifications, or take temporary breaks – specifically when you’re not feeling great. Alternatively, if social media helps you to feel connected to the people in your life, not strangers, you could consider changing your settings to filter content so that you only see updates from specific people.

  1. Consider Seeking Professional Help

Even with a wonderful community of fellow carers, family, and friends around you, you might still be experiencing the very complex emotion of loneliness. Being lonely, despite not being alone is not uncommon at all, and it can sometimes take a little more help to better manage these feelings.

Reaching out to a professional counsellor, coach or therapist can be a step in the right direction. Furthermore, finding someone who specialises in helping caregivers can mean they have a better knowledge of the challenges you face. They may also be understanding and accommodating of your need to fit sessions around your busy schedule. We redirect you to the Carers Trust site, where you can find further information about counselling for carers.