Fit to foster

Although there is no upper age limit on fostering, looking after young people is going to require energy. This means that a reasonable standard of fitness should be maintained by foster carers. There can be times when being a carer can make considerable demands.
The benefits of being fit and staying active will result in an improved quality of life. In turn this will make the rewards of fostering so much greater for all concerned. Read on to discover some simple actions that can make a difference to the experience of being a foster carer.

Meet the challenges and reap the rewards of fostering

Whenever you read or hear anything about fostering children, you’ll often hear it described as being both challenging and rewarding. It also requires energy - emotional and sometimes physical. Keeping fit at any age is a good idea and certainly helps when it comes to dealing with challenges – and fostering can present many of these. Actively striving to stay healthy is an excellent example to set for children and young people – especially as fitness is now closely connected with establishing long term healthy eating habits.
When children and young people come into foster care, it is not uncommon for them to have been neglected in a whole variety of ways: often this means having a poor diet over a prolonged period. Foster carers who set a good example in terms of exercise and diet – and then encourage their foster children to do likewise - are showing that they are interested and care.

At Rainbow we encourage all our foster carers to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Throughout the year we arrange many trips and activities for youngsters through our youth participation service. It’s great if carers can join in with some of these events as the children get a lot from this. And you need to be reasonably fit!

Coping with stress-

At Rainbow Fostering we always remember that although so much attention naturally goes to the foster child or young person, it is important that foster carers have interests in their own lives – things that they can do that are important to them. The reality of fostering can mean carers have little time to devote to themselves. And when there is a lack of variety in life – whatever your occupation – stress can occur which may result in a sense of fatigue.
Over time, this can make it harder for a foster carer to do their best for the child or young person in their charge. If not addressed, this kind of stress can ultimately jeopardise a placement - which is not in anyones interest.

Prevention is usually better than a cure, so the first thing to do is to relax…and We are certainly not recommending running marathons or climbing mountains. Instead, we are supporting some of our foster carers who are now looking into getting together to take up Yoga. We are a community at Rainbow Fostering, so as soon as we come across anything that might be of general interest and benefit to all our carers, we like to ‘spread the word’. If you have any tips of your own, we would be delighted to hear from you. So if you have any of your own special recipes for healthy eating, it would be great if you could share these.

The benefits of exercise

Exercise is a great way to combat stress. Although we are keen to recruit younger foster carers, many foster carers are over the age of thirty five - with some in their sixties and seventies! This means that exercise has to be planned and it is advisable to consult your GP before embarking on a programme to get fit.
Our recommendation is to consider taking up Yoga. It is a very ancient form of exercise which originated in India some 5,000 years ago. It aims to develop flexibility, strength and breathing control to increase levels of physical and mental well being.

Yoga also has many other health benefits with plenty of evidence now pointing towards its boosting immunity
Yoga provides a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit. In simple terms, people who practice the discipline report feeling ‘happier’ and better able to cope. It is also a considerable benefit that yoga can be taken up at any age. It is not uncommon for people to take it up when they are in their seventies. One of the best qualities a foster carer can have is resilience. This is not something we are necessarily born with. At Rainbow we provide plenty of training to help build levels of resilience: the practice of yoga is all about developing physical and mental resilience as a protection against the stresses and strains fostering imposes. The benefits of Yoga improved flexibility, posture and strength, an enhanced feeling of general well-being, a lowering of anxiety, improved lungs and cardiovascular system, improved sleep.

The benefits of sleep

Sleep plays a very important role in maintaining physical health. Getting adequate sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep can:

  • help reduce stress,
  • improve memory,
  • lower blood pressure,
  • maintain a healthy heart,
  • improve your general mood,
  • could reduce your chances of diabetes.
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