Checking in on Carers
Caring for others is a privilege that comes at a sometimes very large cost. In particular the family
and carers of those with chronic illness can experience stress, overwhelm and isolation. They may be
unable to join in regular social activities, and have trouble maintaining regular contact with friends
and extended family. Friends and family can in turn distance themselves.
Often not knowing what to say prevents people from reaching out to those who may be struggling.
This leads to further isolation and further stress for such individuals. Carers and family members may
also be reluctant to talk for fear of being a “burden” to others, being judged, blamed or
misunderstood. They may also struggle to make time for themselves whilst caring for someone else.
R U Ok is an initiative that aims to encourage meaningful conversations with those who may be
feeling overwhelmed and / or isolated. If you know someone who is caring for someone with a
chronic illness, or if you know someone with a family member who has a chronic illness, simply
spending time with them can be useful. You don’t have to have solutions to their problems but your
presence and willingness to listen may be all they need. People often underestimate the power of
simply being there for someone, especially when they have no solutions for the problem at hand.
Simply having someone listen to them or spend time with them can reduce a person’s
sense of isolation and ease their pain. A simple question as to how they are with a genuine willingness to listen can make a lot of difference. They may choose to talk or not. Either way knowing that you are willing to listen and equally willing to simply spend time with them, asking the question and then giving them the opportunity to respond as they wish whilst still accepting them, can make a lot of difference to them. Sometimes all they may want is a distraction, doing something pleasant to get their mind off things. At other times they may simply want someone to listen to them. Either way your time and willingness to listen may be all the help they need.
Tehani Gunasekara (M Psych, B Adv Science, Hons Psych) is a Clinical Psychologist who is passionate about helping people live their best possible lives despite the challenges that inevitably come our way.
While warm and empathic Tehani is a straight talking and practical Psychologist who uses the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Positive Psychology and Neuroscience to obtain outcomes for her clients. She will empathically support people to move forward with their lives and reach for a full and meaningful life regardless of their circumstances.