What causes stress?
Many different things can cause stress. It could be a physical cause (such as fear of something dangerous) or emotional (such as worrying about your family or schoolwork). Growing up can be stressful enough without the added pressure of being a young carer.
What does stress feel like?
People under large amounts of stress can become tired, sick and unable to concentrate or think clearly. Being stressed can really affect emotions and make us behave in ways that are out of character or more extreme than usual. Stress can also affect us physically. Some people get stomach aches or headaches due to stress.
What do I do when I feel stressed?
Try to work out what’s causing the stress and how to fix it. If it’s worrying about school, talk to your teacher about it. If it’s worrying about your parent’s wellbeing or sibling’s health, chat to your parents. If you would prefer to speak to a counsellor, check out the counselling section.
Here are some other helpful tips to reduce stress and look after your mental and physical health:
Catch some Zs – Sleep is important for our bodies to rest and recharge. Here are some helpful tips:
Think positive – We know, we know – an old cliché that is often easier said than done. However, you never know until you give it a go! Try to take some time out to focus on something positive everyday (even if it is only one teeny, tiny thing). What good have you done today? What positives are around you? If you find it helpful for you, you can then up the stakes and try out the 100 happy days challenge.
Snack attack – Yes we all love chocolate but remember – everything is best in moderation! Try to eat regular healthy meals (including breakfast) and limit fatty & sugary treats. Snacks based on fruit, vegetables and whole grains are the healthiest choices and will help to get you through the day. And maybe a little square of chocolate here and there…
Say ‘‘goodbye’’ to screens – Trade in your technology for the outdoors. Keeping active can help you to sleep better while also improving your mood. Find something you enjoy doing and make an effort to do it regularly, such as team sports, walking the dog, swimming, running or dancing.
The original thirst quencher – Did you know that the average human body is 50-65% water? Water is the best way to quench your thirst and it doesn’t come with the added sugar found in fruit juices, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks.
Express your creativity – Draw, write, paint, or perhaps express your creativity through interpretative dance? Try something new and don’t be afraid to experiment. It is all about communicating your feelings through whatever means suit you best as an individual. To get your creative juices flowing, why not check out this online journal or share your story with the community.
Get your Zen on – Sometimes it might feel like your brain is constantly going, going, going…. ‘Get your zen on’ means taking some time to relax by limiting your thoughts and focusing on your breathing. This might mean listening to music, going for a run or you might even benefit from doing guided relaxation. Here is a simple exercise to help you relax by learning to control your breathing:
* TIP: Check out the young carer relaxation audio below!
Create a support network – Whether it is a bunch of friends, your family members, a favourite teacher or a professional that you trust – it doesn’t matter – as long as you have a solid support network surrounding you. Make a list of the people you trust and services you can connect with. Remember these people care about you and you can talk to them.
Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of immense courage. You are not a superhero and you do not need to fix everything on your own. Speak to someone within your support network or click here to ask the YC team. There are many different people and services available to help you and your family.
“I would just like to let all carers out there know that you are not alone. We are all amazing people and need to remember to take time out for ourselves otherwise it can affect you emotionally even though you are not aware of it.”
– Young carer, age 22, cares for a sibling who has schizophrenia
“Because you spend every second thinking about your responsibilities in regard to the person you care for and how you can make them more comfortable and sometimes you forget to take care of yourself. It’s important to have someone who can remind you that you matter as well!”
– Young carer, age 17, cares for a sibling who has autism
“Whenever I feel like I’m just going to burst into tears it normally helps if I do something for myself. Like the computer (not always recommended), draw and basically do what I feel comfortable at the time.”
– Young carer, age 14, cares for a sibling who has a disability
Young Carer Relaxation Audio
To combat the stresses of life, why not plug in your headphones, put your feet up and listen to this relaxation audio. The audio has been designed especially for young carers. Some tracks are designed for a quick de-stress and others take you through a deeper relaxation for when you have more time. Script written and narrated by Maggie Good. Music composed and produced by David Weir. The Young Carers Relaxation CD is a Carers Australia Project funded by the Australian Government.