Survival Guide When You Wear 3 Hats: Child, Parent & Grandparent

The day is Friday. Last night was typical. You were awakened at 1:00 AM & 3:30 AM by your bladder, then again at 4:00 AM by the cat. You finally fell asleep – then morning reminded you of your 5:30 AM appointment with the dishwasher, 7:30 AM meeting with the tea kettle and, since this is your Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, you have a tele-conference with your ‘work team’ (from your laptop) at 9:00 AM sharp. This would all be fine if you had recovered from the Tuesday/Thursday schedule which involved tending to your aging parent (rotating between health-related visits for deteriorating vision, hearing, skin & dental issues . . . etc), from which you had not yet reestablished your own internal balance. You take a deep breath, eagerly anticipating the delicious babysitting experience you look forward to on Saturday, when your grandchildren fill your life with joy – even though your daughter-in-law just informed you that she and your son are generously giving you that time with their precious children so they can seek marriage counseling that was long overdue.

You technically ‘work from home’ three days a week; thus, referenced by colleagues as one who is ‘living the dream.’

The 21st century represents a wide variety of new experiences to each generation – including multiple ways of ‘commuting’ to work.  Whether your commute involves a train, plane, mass transit, car, rolling out of bed to your computer or phone, or a combination of the aforementioned, it is essential that you master the art of healthy boundary setting for your own personal well being.

Boundary setting is important in order to preserve your sanity. There are mini-mental stay-cations (i.e. listening to music, practicing yoga, deep breathing) which work wonders for many people. This approach enhances the living experience by facilitating circulation of oxygen throughout your body and relaxation of muscles – the internal environment.  But what about your external environment? Interruptions – visual as well as auditory impact us on a daily basis. Friends and strangers call day and night. Depending on your circumstances, you may actually be able to limit that communication portal, especially if your sleep is negatively impacted.

It might be of value to consider putting your cell phone on “airplane mode” at the same time each night – perhaps an hour or two before you plan to go to sleep, so that uninvited calls and texts don’t spill into your unwinding time and sleep schedule.  If you are able, you might benefit from setting your land-line telephone to “silent mode” as well – that is, if you have all those who might need to reach out to you living under your roof and/or otherwise within shouting distance in case of an emergency. This communication limiting intervention controls for robo-calls and other unwanted invasions of privacy – but you need to be mindful of keeping certain channels of communication open for the loved ones who may actually need you, especially if you are the ‘go-to’ person. When aging parents or adult children who are in and out of crisis don’t live under your roof, you might consider sharing the ‘on-call’ responsibility, if possible, with other friends or relatives, so that you can have one or more nights off during the week.

Ideally, you can work a 10-day vacation into your annual schedule to recharge your batteries and reestablish internal balance; however, this intervention is not always possible.

The sandwich generation is filled with adults between the ages of 45-70 who take care of aging parents at home while balancing their own roles as parent and grand-parent. Click here for some valuable recommendations.

If your job isn’t your dream career, and you find it a bit draining – but it is necessary in order to pay the bills (that is, when YOUR reality means what feeds your spirit can’t make ends meet), then you owe it to  yourself to nourish your soul with a hobby that does more than take the edge off . . . it must help you establish and maintain mind/body/spirit balance.  There are reasons why it is essential to maintain balance.  When out of balance, we are compromised – health wise. Susan Blum offers insights and tips regarding this topic. Click here to read her recommendations.

When your reality is that you simply can’t get away . . . Whether your constraints involve time, money, commitments or any number of other priorities, you can’t afford to permit your immune system to suffer.  A healthful diet – such as the paleo diet, may provide enough nutrients for your body throughout most of the year (click here to read more about how nutrition impacts your wellness); however, if your sleep is interrupted (click here to read about how sleep affects the immune system), anxiety or ‘monkey mind‘ distract you, or the season precludes adequate exposure to sunshine – you need to be mindful about including additional self care interventions (including vitamin supplementation) into your daily routine. Click here to learn about what Dr. Andrew Weil teaches regarding supplementation with vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

Does your work environment provide a window (to exercise your eyes) and full spectrum overhead lighting?  Or do you work in a cubicle under fluorescent lights? Although scientific evidence-based data are mixed regarding the value/benefit of exposure to full spectrum light (click here for recent data), you know your own body better than any study could predict; therefore, if YOU feel better after sunbathing – even if your exposure is limited to a few precious moments during a lunch break mid-day, then take the hint and catch those rays.

If you are you surrounded by toxic vibrations of any sort, you need to be especially mindful of the air and light around you. Amy Crawford shares some valuable insights regarding this subject.  Click here to read more.  When out of balance, we are more susceptible to illness. Deepak Chopra offers wonderful interventions.  Click here to read them.  During time of stress, consider asking your doctor about vitamin / mineral supplementation. These interventions are highly individualized, so self-treatment without educated guidance is not recommended.

The importance of self-care is tragically understated in today’s world. Take time out of your busy schedule – either once a day or a few times a week, to get back in touch with your true self.  Art, music, dance, meditation, exercise – or any other form of relaxation that permits your mind to take a deep, spiritually cleansing breath.  What makes you feel safe?  Figure it out and experience it. Whether it is learning about your chi points (click here for examples), experimenting with acupressure and chiropractic techniques (check these out click here with your doctor before trying at home) there are methods literally at your fingertips to help you along your wellness journey.

Learn how to read your body.  The body sends us messages every moment of every day. Click here to read about how to interpret what your body is telling you. When you feel a sniffle coming on or experience a morning sore throat, those are also messages – and easily remedied.  Click here to read more.

You owe it to your parents, children, grandchildren, colleagues and all who love and/or simply care about you to pay attention to your mind/ body/ spirit balance.  Help is out there.  Tap into your resources.This not only facilitates your own wellness journey, but it sets an excellent example for the next generation.

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