When my mom became ill after my father died, I did not have a lot of options. My husband and I decided to move her into our home. We could assist her with costs and care so she could help us with our young children while I went back to graduate school. Although, as the years have gone by, my mother has shown that she needs more help than what we can provide. Recent research has shown me that I am not alone in this dilemma.
The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. According to the Pew Research Center, just over one of every eight Americans aged 40 to 70 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between seven and ten million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance.
Mothers in the sandwich generation feel more stress than any other age group as they balance the demanding, delicate acts of caring for growing children and their aging parents, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2007 Stress in America survey. While nearly two-in-five men and women in this age group feel overextended, the survey reveals that more women than men report experiencing extreme stress and say they manage their stress poorly.
Below are some tips that may help you properly manage stress.
What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else?
Recognize How You Deal with Stress
Are you using unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress from a specific event or situation? Put things in perspective — make time for what’s really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.
Find Healthy ways to Manage Stress
Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities — take a short walk, exercise, or talk things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
Take Care of Yourself
Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity like walking or yoga. Keep in contact with your friends and family members. No matter how hectic life gets, you need to take care of yourself — this includes making time for yourself — so you have the mental and physical energy to care for your parents and children.
Ask for Professional Support
Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to persevere during stressful times. If you continue to be overwhelmed by stress or the unhealthy behaviors you use to cope, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your worries, better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
For more information on the sandwich generation or any other mental health issue, we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714.