This can help if:
- you currently help out a friend or family member with a health condition
- you’re feeling overwhelmed by your family responsibilities
- you want to help someone who is a young carer.
Who are young carers?
If you’re under 25 and regularly help out a loved one with a health condition, you could be a young carer. You might have a friend or family member who has a physical or mental illness, disability, chronic condition, misuses substances or is frail. You may not think of yourself as a ‘young carer’ because you love this person and you want to help out as much as you can. While all young people help out a little around the house, young carers do a lot more than usual. This can involve a huge variety of different tasks, from household chores to helping administer medication or giving emotional support.
Being a young carer can be super rewarding because:
- It feels good! Making life a little easier for someone you love is a sure-fire way to get a dose of the warm and fuzzies.
- You get to develop a really special relationship with the person you help out.
- You know how to adult. Being a young carer means you grow up quickly and learn valuable life skills along the way.
- You’re probably less likely to have a total breakdown when the barista makes your latte with full cream even though you 100% asked for skim. Cause, like, perspective… y’know?
Can you care too much?
While being a young carer can be rewarding, it can also be exhausting and hard to manage. A few signs that it might be getting a bit too much are:
- you might notice changes in your emotional wellbeing, like feelings of anger, resentment or guilt
- your social life can take a pretty big hit. You might start feeling isolated or could even experience bullying or feel like you’re being judged
- you could seriously hurt yourself! Being a carer can involve physical tasks like helping someone out of bed or handling strong medications. These tasks can be dangerous and can lead to injuries.
- with all those responsibilities, school or uni might end up at the very bottom of your priorities. You might miss classes, struggle to find time to study or feel so tired you can’t concentrate in class.
Look out for yo’self
It’s important to look after yourself, as well as the person you’re helping out. This might seem hard when you have so many other things to think about. Here are some tips to make sure you’re looking out for numero uno:
Take a break
Giving yourself permission to rest will help you to de-stress and unwind. Take a break, and do something you love like watching a movie or catching up with mates. Even if you’ve only got 15 minutes to spare, a little alone time (read: scrolling the internet cat memes) could help you feel better.
Try some mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness is all about focussing on the present, with an accepting and non-judgemental attitude. The best thing is, you can do almost anything mindfully. Go for a mindful walk, bake some mindful cookies, have a mindful daytime disco in your bedroom. If you find it hard to switch off (guilty!) There are lots of apps that can help, the ReachOut ‘Breathe’ app is a good place to start.
Talk to someone
Sharing your experiences or worries with someone else can make a huge difference. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up about your personal life with friends or family, you could try the ReachOut forums or link up with other young carers through the Young Carers NSW forums.
Ask for help
It might seem scary to ask for a hand, but there are lots of support services set up to help young people like you. Check out this list of services and how they can help.
You can also talk to school, uni or work about your sitch and see how they can help to make life easier. This might mean getting an extension, organising more flexible hours or other arrangements that help you to balance your different responsibilities.