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Under Pressure: Sandwich Generation Moms Face More Stress than Others

December 21, 2020

Caring for children can quickly leave you feeling overextended, and caring for aging parents can, too. When you’re doing both at the same time, however, it can be challenging to manage the stress. This internal battle is waged every day by mothers in the “sandwich generation.” These are women aged 35-54 who are balancing the needs of both growing children and aging parents. It’s a demanding, delicate act and it’s causing sandwich generation mothers to face levels of stress far greater than others, including financial stress. After all, when you’re trying to save for college, fund your own retirement savings, and care for your parents’ growing needs all at once, your paychecks can easily be stretched to an uncomfortable degree. If you find yourself in this situation, read on for tips to help you cope with the pressure.

The Impact of Stress

According to the American Psychological Association’s ongoing Stress in America survey, more women than men report experiencing extreme stress and admit that they manage it poorly. Almost 40 percent of women in the 35-54 age group report “extreme” levels of stress, compared with 29 percent of 18-34 year-olds and 25 percent of those 55 and over. 

This stress impacts personal relationships, but also individual well-being. Self-care is important, however, and women who are struggling with the demands of caring for loved ones must recognize the role stress plays in their physical and mental health and work to manage it in healthy ways. Here are five strategies to help sandwich generation mothers manage stress:

Tip #1: Identify Your Stressors

If you feel ready to rattle off a list of a dozen things, you’re not alone! Stressors can be related to work, children, family health, financial decisions, personal relationships, mental health, and more. Try to pinpoint the exact events or situations that trigger your feelings of stress. Jotting them down on paper can be a great way to lay everything on the table and enable you to move forward.

SEE ALSO: 5 Money Moves Single Parents Should Make

Tip #2: Recognize How You Typically Deal with Stress

If you’re using unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress of supporting your children and your aging parents, it can be difficult to face them head-on. Coping mechanisms like drug and alcohol use, overeating, shopping addiction, and even exercise addiction can create more problems than they solve. Think about the specific situations that stress you out and how you usually handle them, then brainstorm a healthier strategy to implement. For instance, if you are overwhelmed with needing to drive kids to sports practices and parents to doctor's appointments, replace a typical negative coping strategy with something like delegating responsibilities or asking friends and family for help. You can also empower yourself to say ‘no’ to less critical tasks so that you can cut through the clutter and prioritize what’s really important.

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