The Sandwich Years Part II – Managing Stress

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This is the second part of a blog series focused on the challenges faced by those in the “sandwich generation.” The “sandwich generation” refers to working adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who are raising a family as well as caring for aging parents.

Last week’s blog focused on a common stressor among those in the sandwich generation – dealing with an aging parents’ financial matters.  Today’s blog offers practical ways to deal with stress. Susan Daniel, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach at Workplace Options, believes it is critical that adults in the sandwich generation take a proactive approach to dealing with stress. Knowing this can be a prolonged season of challenging circumstances, she encourages caregivers to work on managing stress before it hits a tipping point.

Susan and her coworker Meribeth Aldridge, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, have put together the following suggestions to counter stress:

  • Expand your knowledge of stress reduction. Take a yoga class, explore a mindfulness app, listen to a podcast on handling stress, or pick up a book to enhance your skills to address various situations in your life.
  • Learn what stress-relieving techniques work well for you. Do some experimentation. Try different time lengths, methods (self-guided or guided), and approaches such as gratitude, relaxation, stepping back and taking stock, or visualization.
  • Practice positivity. It is easy to get lost in stressful thoughts soon after waking. Begin the day with positive affirmations and get clear on how you want to feel. Identify and reduce negative stimuli in your life such as pessimistic people, certain forms of media, and bad habits. If you are not feeling positive, “fake it till you make it.” Smiling can be a great mood booster!
  • Find ways in your daily routine to “take a moment.” Go for a short walk, take a couple of deep breaths, or close your eyes and count back from 10. Small approaches such as these can improve your outlook, calm you down, and re-set your mind.
  • Train your brain by practicing stress release techniques on a regular basis. Practicing on a regular basis will help you access those techniques “in the moment.”
  • Do not create stress by setting unattainable goals. Instead, set SMART goals which can be more effective than general goals and offer clarity and guidance for your intentions. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For example, “I will swim two days a week at the community pool after work on Mondays and Wednesdays” in place of “I will be more active.” SMART goals can be applied to many different areas of your life such as work, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Talk to someone about your stressors. While a friend may not be able to offer an immediate answer to assist you in your situation, talking to another person about your stresses can remind you that you are not alone and that others may be facing the same circumstances. Talking to someone about your stress can even help you look at situations from a new perspective or think more logically about them as you express your concerns aloud instead of only fuming internally.
Andrew Maher

According to Andrew Maher, MNAPCP, Clinical Team Lead at Workplace Options’ Dublin office, working with a counselor can be very advantageous in managing stress. “A counselor can listen to the clients self-talk and the expectations they may be placing on themselves, using words like ‘should’ and ‘must’ which adds an extra layer on stress,” explains Andrew. “Working with a counselor can help one learn to be more compassionate and forgiving towards oneself and eliminate some of the unrealistic expectations driving the feelings of stress.”

 

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com.