Stress Management in The Sandwich Generation

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In reference to the American Psychological Associations 2007, mothers who are in the sandwiched generation feel more stress than any other age group. They range from age 35-54 and are always trying to balance the demanding and delicate acts of taking care of growing children and their aging parents.

Approximately 40 percent of the people aged 35-54 have reported extremely high levels of stress.

This stress can affect not only their personal relationships but also their own well being as they struggle to take care of themselves. According to Katherine Nordal, a psychologist in the American psychological Association, it is not a surprise that very many people in that age group are experiencing stress. This is because the worry about the health of your parents and your children’s well being as well as the financial concern is too much to handle.

This stress impacts a lot of aspects in their lives. When the mothers are overly engaged in taking care of their growing children and aging parents, they tend to forget to take good care of themselves and thus leading to the stress levels going really high. This stress can lead to some chronic consequences such as:

Anxiety

Many women who are simultaneously caring for their children and aging parents have reported feeling more anxious than any other age group. Anxiety is when a person has feelings of fear, worry or unease. It usually occurs after a particular stimulus for example when the caregiver is worried about the financial budget that they have or when the aging parent falls sick.

Anxiety can cause to the caregiver both physical and psychological impact. The physical symptoms can include; stomach ache, headache, fatigue, sweating and muscle tension. And the psychological symptoms are; the mother can have irrational anger even when the child makes a very little mistake, they can have difficulty in concentrating in other fields and restlessness.

Depression

Stress causes a pitch of hormones in the body. The hormones are released to enable you cope with pressure. Depression affects how you feel, think, behave and the normal functioning of the body. Depression affects the mood of a person. Thus the sandwiched parent will have various mood changes. They may have low moods especially when the relationship between their children and grand children is strenuous.

This leads to the caregiver being always in a low mood even when there is no reason to be. It could lead to very serious consequences on the health of the mother. This is not good for her because the aging grandparent and growing child depend on her.

Weight gain

While the immediate reaction to acute stress can be associated with temporary loss of appetite, more people recognize that for some individuals, chronic stress can be linked with increase in appetite and stress-induced weight gain. If the mother does not take care to manage the stress she can end up having an elevated appetite which leads to weight gain.

Also when your levels of adrenaline are high it can lead to emotional eating. It can make you eat more mindlessly while stirring up the worrying thoughts in your head. At this point you will not be focusing on the taste of the food, how much food you have taken and you will not know when you are feeling full. When you eat without caring, you are likely to eat more yet feel less satisfied. Thus this leads to him or her gaining weight due to stressful situations.

Overeating

Stress is also associated with affecting food preferences. According to research it was found out that physical or emotional distress increases the consumption of foods high in sugar and fats. The increased level of cortisol in combination with the levels of insulin being high could be the possible cause overeating.

Other sources state that a hunger hormone known as ghrelin may have a role. Once the fat and sugar filled foods are ingested, the feedback seems to have an effect that inhibits activity in the brain that produce stress. These foods that are overeaten are just comfort foods which contribute to people’s stress induced cravings.

Weight loss

Most caregivers go through periods of time in their life when the demands get greater and thus the stress load becomes heavier. Despite the reason, there can be an impact. The adrenal glands govern the response of an individual to stress. When the levels are high the body is made to use the stored fat thus loss of weight.

There is no doubt that being a sandwiched caregiver is an exhausting position to be sometimes.

Below are some tips to help you reduce the stress that is associated with the being a caregiver and help you maintain a healthy body and keep fit:

Exercise

Be physical and avoid staying in the house and doing chores all day long. You can take a walk or go for a run in the morning hours. A regular exercise routine will help you reduce stress and keep fit.

Have a care plan

This should include your parents to make sure that you understand their care goals and priorities. It is advisable to also include your children and listen to their inputs. This is particularly if they will be sacrificing their time and activities due to your care giving responsibilities.

Take good care of your relationship

The relationship between you, your spouse and children is very important and should be guarded. Family relationships can be bad when the spouse or children feel like they are being ignored. Always make special time for your family and also spend quality time with your spouse.

Relax

Take time to step back and relax. You can schedule daily and weekly downtime. Determine what priorities are important that need to be handled and let the others go.

Do not forget about self-care

In order to provide good care to other family members, you need to take care of yourself first. Ensure you find time for proper nutrition, sleep, senior care and child care responsibility. Mothers are well known for their behavior of putting their family needs first and end up neglecting their own. They need to manage their stress for their own health benefits and be a good caregiver. They are the role models of other members of the family. The other members of the family will imitate he behaviors whether good or bad.