Wellness Matters

Managing the Stress of Being a “Sandwich” Caregiver

August 24, 2015

According to Pew Research Center, 47 percent of Americans are actively parenting children, teens or adults in the home while also caring for aging parents. This population is often referred to as the “sandwich generation.” Studies show that carrying this much responsibility can lead to feelings of stress as caregivers juggle the complex variety of daily tasks and relationships created by work as well as commitments to multiple family members. The responsibility can be overwhelming at times. Because of time constraints and strong emotions, caregivers may neglect to take care of themselves.

Practice Self-care
  • Care for your body and stay active.
  • Make time for yourself.
  • Find support: find a counselor, join a support group, take a class, make friends or deepen the relationships you have.
  • Find others to help you help your loved ones—develop a support team.
  • Focus on what matters. Caregivers get caught up in responding to day-to-day demands and forget what is most important. Learn to say “no” to the activities that are not priorities. Create a list of important activities and use it to help you choose how to spend your time.
  • Realign your personal goals according to what matters to you. You may have to put some goals on hold or even eliminate them to address the demands of caregiving. 

  • Deal with the guilt. Guilt arises naturally in caregiving and it can be destructive. Reach out to caregiving organizations that offer education and support. Without a network of support, caregivers often become isolated, which can lead to depression and their own serious health issues.
  • Caregivers may grieve for the life they led prior to caregiving. It is normal for caregivers to feel sadness, anger and resentment. As with guilt, seek support structures to help you with these feelings. To combat grief over losing the life you once had, empower yourself by controlling what you can to create a new life.
  • Infuse ordinary events with meaning. Look for beauty and positive moments as you go through your day. When you encounter these moments, reflect on how it makes you feel. These will give you pause and can reduce stress. 
  • Allow yourself to laugh. The act of laughing releases endorphins, which are natural stress fighters and help relieve pain. Seek out humor and have a deep long laugh.

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