How to look after yourself
All carers need to recharge their batteries including young people! It is so important when caring for a person in your family approaching the end of life or if coping with bereavement that you look after yourself too. It is important not to feel guilty about it.
Do something you love
So what helps you feel less stressed or anxious? It’s important to pick something you love doing. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Exercising and sport, for example football, cycling or running
- Drawing or painting, for example you could paint a picture to show how you feel
- Playing or listening to music
- Talking to friends
- Write your feelings down by filling out a daily diary
- Make a memory jar by writing down a special memory about the person, folding it up and putting it in the jar
- Reading a book or watching a TV show or film
- Walking the dog or taking a trek in the countryside
- Having a soak in the bath or just being quiet and peaceful
There are lots of terms and abbreviations flying around about mindfulness making it confusing as to what exactly it means. In a nutshell it is about a range of techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing which enables you to focus on the here and now.
Headspace also provides information on meditation and tools and resources to look after the mind.
Visit your GP
It’s important to let your GP know you are a young carer so that they understand what your role is in the family. It can help with making sure you get an appointment at a time to suit you and to access a one off carer break payment to support your health and wellbeing. Your GP can also refer you for counselling if you feel this could help. You can let your GP know you are a young carer by filling out the young carers GP registration form and then hand in at the reception desk.
If you’re over the age of 16, you can register with a GP by yourself. You can find a list of local GP’s in your area on the NHS website. If they are accepting new patients, they will ask you to fill in a registration form. If you are under 16 you can go to see a doctor without your parents or carer but you would need them to register you at your GP surgery so that you can book appointments.
A good GP will give you as a young person the opportunity to talk separately away from the person you care for about any physical and emotional health problems you may have as a result of your caring role. For tips and advice as well as hearing from young people about their experiences of seeing a GP.
Healthy Eating is also important because getting the right nutrients helps to keep your energy and concentration levels up. A poor diet can also lead to other health problems. The NHS Choices also offers some practical tips on how to eat well.
Remember as a young carer and particularly when feeling very distressed and emotional as a result of losing a relative you may be vulnerable to pressure. Be extra aware of crime or criminal activities. For more information on how to avoid certain situations go to the Action for Carers Surrey website.