Caring for yourself while caring for others

When you’re looking after someone else it can be easy to forget about looking after yourself. But keeping your physical health in check is a really important part of being able to care for someone else. Similarly, if your emotional health is not supported, it can be really difficult to get through the day. There are a number of services available which can help you get the right balance of physical and emotional wellbeing.

This might help if:

  • You are a young carer
  • You know a young carer
  • You want to know about maintaining physical and emotional health as a carer
young man sitting on pier holding book

Physical health

Looking after your physical health can be particularly difficult when you’re caring for another person. But if your physical health is not maintained, it can be difficult to feel on top of everything else. Some things you can do to stay physically healthy include:

  • Get moving - Try to get out and about every now and again, not only to get fresh air but also get your body moving. 
  • Eat well - Don’t sacrifice your physical health by not eating wholesome food. Try to make sure you’re eating enough fruit and vegies to make your body function well.
  • Sleep well - Sleeping is such an important part of your physical health but can be easy to overlook. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours, even if you need to take naps during the day.

Emotional health

Maintaining your emotional health can be just as important as looking after your physical health. Some of the things you can do to keep your emotional health in check include:

  • Stay balanced - make sure you’re not doing too much of one thing. Try to find a hobby or something to do that gives you pleasure.
  • Ask for help - Don’t feel you have to do everything on your own. Take some of the pressure off by asking someone you know to help out.
  • Have a break - Make sure you’re taking time out and giving yourself time to catch up. This will help ease the stress and exhaustion that many carers can experience.

Other things you can do

Learn more about the illness/disability of the person you’re caring for
Knowing about the illness/disability may be helpful in understanding the behaviour or moods of the person you're caring for. It's also a great idea if you are giving medication, as you'll be better able to understand possible side effects.

Try to share the care
Caring for someone can be exhausting. It may be helpful to share the responsibility of care with someone else, so that you don’t get too worn out. This may be a sister, brother, aunt, uncle or grandparent. Another suggestion is to talk to someone at the Young Carers Respite and Information Services who can be contacted on 1800 242 636.

Support activities
When you are caring for someone you may sometimes feel you are doing it all alone. Talking to people who are in a similar situation could be helpful. You might like to do this by taking part in activities specifically organised for young carers.

The Young Carer’s Australia site is a great place to start if you’re looking for support.

Seeking support

As a carer, it can sometimes feel like you’re on your own. However, it’s worth noting that there are a number of different support services out there which can help you.

Organisations that support young carers in particular include Young carers Australia and Children of parents with a mental illness.

Talking to someone about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through can be a great way of looking after your health. Just seeking support and knowing there’s someone out there who will listen can be a great relief.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 12 August, 2015
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