Family and Systemic Psychotherapist and member of our Expert Panel writes about worrying as a young carer. Share your thoughts? Does this help you?
'Worrying about those we love can have a huge effect on our lives. It's very natural to be concerned about the people we care for, especially if we see them in pain, or struggling to do the things they need to do and want to do. When you are responsible for taking care of someone in your family, it is natural to have a lot to keep in mind when you're at home. When this is the case, it is really good to find things you can do to take a break from all the worrying.
You don’t feel the same amount of worry all the time. Think about when you feel most worried for the person you care for. What would help you to feel less worried at those times? What could you, or the person you care for, or anyone else do to help you feel less worried when you know that you might be most worried?
Think about when you feel least worried about the person you care for, or when you stop worrying about them. Thinking about the times when you can let the worry go for a while can help you to identify what helps you to be more relaxed about your responsibilities. Is it being engrossed in something you enjoy like a sport or a hobby; having to focus on something else, like study or work; being with friends and having fun; knowing that someone else is looking after them, etc.?
What effect does the worry have on you? What does the worry try to stop you from enjoying? How does worry disturb your peace of mind, or make you feel sad or tired?
What effect does your worry have on the person you care for? Do they know you are worried? What do they do or say to help you feel less worried? What do you think they might say if they knew how worried you are about them?
What effect does your worry have on your relationship with the person you care for? Does it sometimes make you feel grumpy or resentful? Does it sometimes stop you from enjoying happy times with them?
What would it mean if you didn't worry about them? Sometimes we can feel guilty if we don’t worry about those we love, because we think it means we don’t care about them and their pain. But you can care and love without worrying, by helping them, as you do, and by smiling, laughing with them, talking about something you enjoy, doing something that soothes their pain, etc.
Some people find it useful to write their worries down and put them somewhere safe or keep them in their pocket. Then they find they can ‘let go’ of them for a while. Think about leaving your worries at home, or ‘put them down' for a while, if they are quite ‘heavy’ to carry around all day.
It can also be helpful to use a pain scale from 0-10, where 0 is no pain and 10 is a lot of pain. That way the person you care for can let you know what level of pain they are experiencing. You could also use a worry scale for yourself, to identify how worried you are, and to think what would help your worry to get down to the next number on the scale. Or maybe it would be useful for the person you care for to know how worried you are at different times, so they can help you, too.
Worry is very big and it can squash all the happiness and hope out of life. So it can be helpful to pause each day and think about the best or happiest things that happened, or something funny, or something you’re really thankful for. It can also be useful to have a list of things you can do that help you to feel relaxed and happy, such as a music playlist, a hobby, a funny TV show, a friend you can chill out with, or some zingy bubble bath - anything you like. When you've had a very worrying day, take time out to do something special for you that helps you to feel better.
Who is worried about you? Are there people who are concerned about you, who help you and who understand what you are experiencing? Or are their friends and other family members who might need to know how worried you are sometimes, so they can support you? Or perhaps your GP, or a social worker? Think about what the other people who care about you would say to help you if they knew how worried you can be at times?
Do you worry? What do you do to help you worry less? Let us know because it might help another person, too!