Keeping up relationships with others, by Tricia Hendry

Keeping Up Relationships with Others

Having good relationships with others is important for our wellbeing. So how can we keep up relationships with people we like and enjoy? The responsibilities and time demands of a caring role can mean less time is made for socialising. For our own wellbeing’s sake, how can we avoid becoming socially isolated, or lonely?

Keeping connected with others makes a positive difference.

  • Good times with friends or family can help relax us. It’s great to laugh and have fun.
  • Being with others helps us get a fresh view of things – and it keeps life interesting.
  • Being able to talk about our everyday ups and downs releases stress.
  • Honest conversations can be shared when needed, strengthening trust between us.
  • Others who care about us can provide some help and support in difficult times.
  • New friendships can happen for us at any stage in life.
  • Even enjoying conversations or activities with people we don’t know well can be a good experience.
  • Other carers we meet can become treasured sources of mutual support, understanding, encouragement, and true friends.

Relationships, of course, can be challenging too. Some carers find their relatives and friends withdraw and offer little or no support. Some have family members who disagree about how things are being done, or about old family issues. Tensions can also grow from differing expectations. Keeping up other enjoyable, supportive relationships becomes especially important for carers in these situations.

Helpful Tips

  • Choose to make keeping up relationships a priority. Your own wellbeing matters.
  • Contact others at least once a day, even if it’s just one person – by phone, messaging, email or in person.
  • Every week set aside planned time to spend with others. Then make it happen.
  • In stressful times, contact trusted friends or relatives to chat to – don’t put it off. It’s good to reach out.
  • Get to know your neighbours better.
  • Have regular family and/or friend social gatherings to give people an opportunity to catch up with you, and to see how things are going. It can be simple, such as BYO fish and chips!
  • Say Yes more than No to social invitations – even if it’s challenging to get to them. Get involved in things so you can meet with other people. Go to community events. Look out for things you’d enjoy being a part of – walks, projects, hobby groups, concerts etc.
  • Ask others for help so you can join in with social events. Such as help with transport, or providing short periods of care for the person you provide support for. Let the helper know what a difference they made and they may offer again.
  • When the person you support has respite care, make time to socialise. Even if you’re tired, spend some time with people you enjoy and who can make you laugh!
  • Link up with other carers in your area. Try a carers Meet Up or joining a support group through a relevant agency. Like our Carers NZ page on Facebook.
  • Join an online carer community or other positive groups. (Always be mindful of internet safety.)
  • Use helplines for support if friends or family aren’t available.

When I was low, talking with someone – even a shop owner or a neighbour – helped lift my mood. I’d ring a friend or family member every day, just to chat. Otherwise I felt I was just disappearing. My relationships took some effort, but they kept me balanced. They made my world a bit bigger.                                                                                                                                                Lydia, long-time carer