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Coping strategies for young carers

RileyRiley Moderator Posts: 991 Part of The Mix Family
Hi again everyone on the boards! In case you've missed my last couple of threads (here and here) I've been helping The Mix with their Young Carer's Awareness project and this week I'm going to be talking about coping strategies for managing stress and emotional exhaustion. We'd love for you to share if you or someone you know is a young carer, but as you can guess this topic is a little bit more serious than the last two so feel free not to respond if it makes you uncomfortable. I'm gonna jump right in and talk about some of the things that help me feel better when everything's getting on top of me. Mind you these coping techniques aren't going to work for everyone but they're what help me get through tough times. 🙂

There are times when having to care for my mum can stress me out or upset me, especially when I've had a particularly busy week I can get overwhelmed and upset. I think it's important for just about anyone to have some time off and really focus on themselves for a little while. This can be pretty difficult as a young carer but I'm lucky that my dad is able to pick up some of the slack when I'm not feeling so good. Just taking some time to sit in my room and maybe watch a movie by myself or play one of my favourite video games can do wonders for helping me recharge my batteries so to speak. It's also so important to have a good support circle around you, people you can depend upon and talk to when things are getting to be too much. Like I mentioned my dad is able to help but I also have my sister who I can talk to about near enough anything and I have some pretty great friends who will always listen to me when I need to get something off my chest. When all else fails I can always turn to animal therapy and give one our pets a good long cuddle!

Being a young carer is tough there's no doubt about that but little things like this can help get through tough times. So what kinds of coping strategies have you or someone you know come up with while being a carer?

As I said before it can be a little upsetting to talk about but we'd really love to hear what you have to say! What you share might even help someone out there who's struggling at the moment, I certainly hope I have. ❤️

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    PoppyBPoppyB Posts: 228 Trailblazer
    Hi @Riley I'm in a similar situation where I care for a family member and share the job with another relative...all while juggling full-time work and postgrad studying - so I can very easily get overwhelmed and stressed.

    Over the years, I think the most important thing I have learnt is that you should always practice self-care and do not push yourself past your limits otherwise you can become unwell yourself with stress. 

    Coping strategies I have personally used to manage stress/exhaustion include:
    • talking to my close friends and family about how I am managing and not being afraid to say I need a distraction or some cheering up. 
    • if I don't feel able to speak about how I am feeling, then I write it down in a private journal to get the thoughts out of my head.
    • remind myself it's okay to feel overwhelmed and burnt out about my situation and that my feelings are completely valid.  
    • remind myself it's completely valid to take a break and that I deserve one and have no need to feel guilty about it. I used to feel like if I was home, I had to look after my family member regardless of how I felt. I've learnt that to take a proper break I need to physically leave the house for a bit, so I usually make plans to visit friends  for the whole weekend which lets me recharge. 
    • go for a walk - being in nature and green space is a great way to calm my mind
    • cuddle my cat (if he is in the mood for it..!)
    • paint my nails - this may sound silly but it's a good distraction for me because it requires a lot of concentration to not mess them up!
    • listen to my favourite music/watch my favourite films and tv shows/play a game on my phone
    • baking - I love trying and sharing new recipes 
    • yoga - i find this to be a really helpful form of exercise to stretch out all my muscles and especially to focus on my breathing and let all my overwhelming thoughts disappear for half an hour or so
    • read a book - I've just started re-reading His Dark Materials as the tv show has just starting coming out on BBC
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    MaisyMaisy Moderator Posts: 627 Incredible Poster
    edited November 2019
    It's been a while since I was a young carer. But I think what helped me the most was:

    • Talking to my relatives since we were all this in together and were more likely to be understanding than friends who might not know what to say.
    • That said, spending time with family and friends, enjoying ourselves helped to take my mind off things too. 
    • Trying to continue with things I liked doing, such as playing computer games, while trying not to feel guilty about that.
    • Also, trying new things such as joining the Young Carers club helped too.
    • Lastly, keeping a sense of humour and being grateful. Caring is really hard, but it can help to keep a sense of humour and be on the look out for positive things to be grateful for, especially when things get really tough. 
    FAQ | How to report a post | How to report spam
    I'm a community moderator. I'm here to help guide discussions and make sure Community Guidelines are followed. I can't send DMs, but you can message @TheMix or email community@themix.org.uk with questions or concerns.
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