5 Tips for the Sandwich Generation on Managing Caregiver Stress
There are currently 24 million Americans caring for children and aging parents simultaneously, according to a Pew Research report.
This so-called “Sandwich Generation” is made up of increasingly younger boomers and Gen Xers as the senior population continues to soar.
The challenges that the Sandwich Generation face include committing most of their time and energy to their children, career, and caregiving. Unfortunately, they often dedicate little time to caring for themselves. The stress that builds up over time in such a situation can really take a toll on a caregiver’s life.
If you’re part of the Sandwich Generation, don’t underestimate the importance of taking the time to de-stress. Huffington Post’s Sherri Snelling even recommends acting childish: “Playing outside, being silly and laughing with friends and acting carefree may actually benefit caregiver health,” she writes.
Below are 5 tips for caregivers on awakening their inner child and taking some time to de-stress, adapted from Snelling:
- Nap time: We’ve all heard that getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night is important to our overall health. If you’re not getting the necessary sleep at night, plan out routine times to nap and go to bed, as if you were a nine-year-old again.
- Bath time: Kids shouldn’t be the only ones who get to enjoy a nice night. Start thinking of baths as a health necessity, not a nice option. While taking a bath every day may not be possible, set aside as little as 10 minutes to bathe three days a week for some good stress relief.
- Outdoor fun and sun: Sunshine, and the Vitamin D it provides, is proven to reduce the risk of conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, allergies, and osteoporosis. It also boosts mental health. As little as 10 minutes of sunshine a day is all you need to start reaping the benefits.
- Hop, skip, jump: We all have fond memories of running around outside as kids. There’s no reason you shouldn’t still have that much fun as an adult! Grab your kids and play some games at the park, or take the dog for a brisk walk. You’ll find these simple activities (which are all free) will boost your mood and physical health significantly.
- Daydream: You had the right idea when you were a child by lying in the grass and looking up at the clouds in the sky. Now that you’re an adult, taking a few minutes each week to daydream can do wonders in reducing stress. One rule though: No TV, music, cell phones, or other distractions.
Can you think of any other ways that you can awaken your inner child to reduce caregiver stress? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.
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