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Looking after yourself while looking out for others

Get informed
Look after yourself
Take some time for you
Care Safely
Let it out
Share the care
Tell them what you really think
You're not the only one
Caring can be cool
Be proud of you



1. Get informed
It's really important to know as much as you can about your relative's illness or disability. Finding out information can really reduce your stress and help you not take things personally - a lot of stuff is out of your control. Also, if you're well informed then people caring for your relative (like doctors, nurses and other workers) can't just push you to the side. Hopefully they'll listen and take up your ideas. It's good to have info, too, so that you know what to do in an emergency. In other sections of this pack there are some tips on how to get good information - check it out!

here for more information from Teen Health!

2. Look after yourself
It's impossible to look after someone else if you're not looking after your own health too. Go and see a doctor or other health worker sometimes and make sure that you're OK. This will keep you healthy - both in body and mind.

3. Take some time out for you!
Make sure you have time out to do the things that de-stress and re-energise you. Rest, exercise, eat healthy meals, do some fun activities that you enjoy. Someone once said we're all like a well - its great that we can give so much to others but we need time to refill if we're going to keep going.

4. Care Safely
It's really important that you are always safe. This means that if you need to do things like lifting you know how to do it in a way that doesn't hurt you in the short or long term. It means that you get help if your relative's illness or disability causes them to get violent sometimes. It means that you protect yourself. If you think "yeah, but my relative needs me to do this stuff" then you have also have to realize that if you hurt yourself then you're not going to be able to help them at all - which isn't good for them or you either. Have a chat to a doctor, nurse or youth worker about how you might care more safely.

5. Let it out
Sometimes we bottle things up - hiding things from those people we care for and also from other close people too. Sometimes we think that it's not OK to let people know how we're feeling or that we're not coping that well. But this isn't good for our health. We need to get things out, to tell people about what's going on for us and to then work out ways to better deal with troubles and hard times. Finding a good friend, a teacher, someone in our family to talk to is really important and it's something that we need to do. Otherwise, like a time bomb, we're going to explode. And nobody wants that - it's a shocker to have to clean up!

One great place to do this is at a support group for young carers. Here you can get together with other people dealing with similar issues and share ideas, stories and ways of dealing with things too. Now don't think that they're all doom and gloom, because support groups are also a great place to share fun stories, muck around and to just spend time with others who know exactly what's going on for you.
Here's some in the ACT.

6. Share the care
Caring can be a really big job. Often it can be more than one person can take on alone. In these times it's really important to get other people to help out - maybe other family members, family friends or services who are there to support families and people with illnesses and disabilities.

Having someone else take the pressure off a little is also helpful for the person you're caring for - the more care they get the better and it can be a real boost for them to see you have some time to spend doing other things too. Ring your local Carers Association on 1800 242 636 to find out who's around or if you're in the ACT click
here for local services.

REMEMBER: It's OK to ask for help!

7. Tell them what you really think
As someone who helps out in your family, you have a right to tell people what you think. If you believe that you're not getting enough support or that those people working with your family aren't doing a good job then you have a right to complain. Most services will have a manager or co-ordinator - find out who they are and give them a call or send them a letter. Sometimes this can be a bit scary, so grab a youth worker, a teacher, your doctor or someone else and get them to help. If you think things are not OK, then it's not OK.

8. You're not the only one!
Sometimes we get frustrated, angry or disappointed because we think that our families are different to everyone else's, that we're the only one's doing the things we do. But caring is something that more than one in ten young people do - you really are not alone! Find some other young people who care, or read the stories of others who've gone through what you're going through. It can be really refreshing.

9. Caring can be cool
Its good to remind ourselves sometimes about all the good parts about being a young carer. It's good to remember all the new skills we have, how special our families are, how much we've grown as a person. Write a list and keep it somewhere special - reading it when things seem to be too much can put things in perspective.

10. Be proud of you
As well as being proud of the things you do, be proud of yourself too. You are an incredible person with so many great things that piece together to make you who you are. Caring is a part of that, but there's so much more too that you need to acknowledge and feel good about. Jot some of them down or, if that seems too tough, get someone who cares about you to do it for you. Read each one and say "yeah, I am that - and that makes me special".




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