Look after yourself: caring and stress

The demands of caring can sometimes feel relentless and it's important as a carer to control stress.

Many carers experience physical, mental, or emotional tension related to their caring role. A bit of stress is normal but when stress becomes unrelenting and overwhelming it can begin to affect your health and wellbeing. 

The physical and emotional demands of caring

Some carers provide 24 hour nursing aid to a family member with high care needs. Others care for people who are fairly independent but may need help occasionally. The greater the physical and emotional demands of your caring role, the more likely you are to feel stress.

Lack of choice
Many carers feel they had little or no choice in taking on caring. You may sometimes feel trapped and resentful.
Conflict and frustration

Relationships can change under the pressures of illness and adversity. There might be greater levels of conflict and frustration in your family. You may even be caring for someone you have always had a difficult relationship with.

Lack of support

Many carers feel alone and unsupported. You may find it hard to access services and supports that meet the needs of your family. You may also wish that friends and family members could help out more.

Effects of stress

When you feel stressed your body reacts the same way it does to a threat. Your heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure all go up. The longer you feel stressed, the greater the demands on your body.

This can eventually lead to stress related illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health problems, decreased immunity and chronic fatigue.


For more information, read the fact sheets titled, Managing stress; Eating well; Healthy food for busy people and Find time to exercise.