Are you the ham in an intergenerational sandwich? Stress amongst the sandwich generation is mounting, and mental health experts are ringing the alarm bells. “When you’re caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget about your own needs, putting you at serious risk of burnout.”(1)
You’re trying to be all things to all people, and your physical and emotional well-being can get pushed to the back of the line. But, let’s face it: you’re no good to anyone if you’re constantly getting sick, taking too long to recover, stressed and anxious, not getting enough sleep. And if you’re physically unfit, it’s a safety issue for both you and your elderly parent: if you’re not strong enough to help your limited-mobility mother get in and out of the car safely/climb up and down the stairs/etc, you’re both at risk for injury. Not only will regular exercise keep your body well, it is also a great way to relieve stress: “Force yourself to get moving. Exercise is the best stress reliever. Not only will you feel better right away, the surge of endorphins that exercise triggers lifts your mood, clears your head and helps you sleep better at night.”(2)
Exercise is one form of self-care to help you manage sandwich generation stress. Other techniques include:
1 & 2: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-12-2011/caregiver-burnout.html
Image source: pixabay.com
Last fall, I was fortunate enough to meet Angela Sutcliffe when she registered for the fall session of Essentrics classes. After one month of classes, she posted the following status update on Facebook:
"Today I stubbed my toe ... and it hurt, oh how it hurt ... and after I finished hopping around the house screaming words they didn't teach me at the convent I paused and realized OMG, IT HURT.
What you don't know about me (although you may now) is that I can be the Queen of Denial, so for the past three years or so I hadn't wanted to admit to myself or anyone else (especially NOT a medical professional) was that I couldn't actually feel my feet ... they were sort of numb-ish with a bit of tingling. Oh my GP had sent me for all the typical tests ... for diabetes etc. and they had always come out negative ... but still I had a nagging little question about why don't my feet feel right ... why do they feel like they're in a very tight plastic bag?
So today, when I felt pain in my foot, it confirmed what I had thought was happening, that feeling was coming back to my feet ...I noticed they were no longer freezing but they were actually warm to the touch. And when I went to my Essentrics with Amanda - Ottawa class and we were doing our stretching I finally understood... the problem with my feet wasn't "organic" in the sense of diabetes, it was tight beyond belief muscles right down to the tips of my toes, and thanks to stretching, moving, lengthening my muscles, my tendons, my fascia ... everything is coming alive again and, for today anyhow, that pain was my body saying "I'm waking up".
The reason I'm telling you this is that for a long time I thought health was about diet alone ... about "when I get to a certain weight" ... if I eat right ... but now I have incontrovertible evidence that health is about eating but it is also about moving because no matter how much - or how little - you weigh, tight muscles will slowly take away your quality of life.
Whoohoo. Sometimes pain is a good thing! Feelings ... (I'm on the right track!)"
Thanks Angela! I'm so glad you've discovered the power of Essentrics.
Amanda Sterczyk is a Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor. She offers in-home personal training in central Ottawa. Amanda specializes in helping older adults maintain and increase strength, flexibility, and mobility. No fitness goal is too small, in her opinion.