Take a break

If you’re caring for someone else it’s important you look after yourself properly too.

Caring for someone is hard work, no matter how much you love them and what to do whatever you can for them. Everyone needs a break, though it can be difficult if you don’t know who else can look after the person you’re caring for.

But it’s important not to forget about what you need too. You need to rest, take a break, and get away to a place where you can:

  • Relax and be yourself
  • not worry about the person you're caring for
  • do what you enjoy

This isn't selfish. You matter too!

Get away every day

For you to stay happy, well and healthy, you need to take time out every day to relax and de-stress. The best way is to do something you really enjoy. These are some of the ways young people at Oxford Young Carers like to escape:

  • drawing, doing art
  • listening to music
  • reading a good book
  • writing stories or in their diary
  • being out into the garden
  • playing with their dog
  • kicking a football
  • singing
  • sitting somewhere quiet on their own for a moment
  • deep breathing
  • closing their eyes and thinking things through
  • watching television
  • playing the guitar or another instrument
  • having a sleep somewhere peaceful.

Why not try making your own list and make a promise to yourself to do one or more of the things on the list every day?

How to know if you’re getting too stressed

If you find it difficult or impossible to relax, or if doing things you enjoy just makes you feel sad or anxious, then you may be getting too stressed. Small amounts of stress can be good for a person, but being stressed all the time is exhausting, and raises your chances of suffering illness, anxiety and depression.

If you're getting too stressed then it's time to get some help. Here are some of the warning signs:

  • you can't relax, no matter how much you try
  • you are having problems sleeping, are waking up very tired, or are falling asleep unexpectedly
  • you are worried and stressed all the time.

Talk to someone

Many young carers go through very stressful times, such as when someone's condition gets worse, or when they go into hospital or residential care. It’s important to tell someone if you’re getting too anxious as talking things through can often help make matters seem less worrying, especially if someone else can offer to take some of the pressure off you.

  • If you can, talk to other people in your family about how you're feeling; they may not have realised how stressed you are.
  • Try talking to your GP or any other workers involved in the family.
  • Contact your local Early Intervention Hub to see what help and support they can offer
  • Mention how things are at school to your teacher or to friends you can trust.
  • Talk to your local Young Carer group, they can suggest other services you might find useful.
  • Your Young Carers worker can also refer you to specialist services like counselling and bereavement services, if you think it might help.

Take a break

Young Carers Groups can help arrange respite care – for someone to look after the person you’re carrying for so you can take a break. They also have regular get-togethers. Sometimes these are social, and sometimes they are just a quiet place for you to do homework or chill out, which is especially important if you find it hard to relax at home.

They also arrange trips, fun activities and short holidays (also called residentials), which let you take a proper break and experience new and interesting things. To access this:

  • Contact your local young carers team
  • Talk to them and, if appropriate, social or healthcare workers to find out what you can get help with
  • Part of this might involve you having an assessment. This is when someone comes to your house to find out what help you need and then lets you know what’s available.
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