It is normal to feel nervous and unsure when you are thinking about attending for counselling. There is a lot of information about counsellors and counselling portrayed on the internet and in the media from Dr. Phil and in movies to people’s opinions about counselling (whether they've ever attended therapy or not!).
Squished between parents and children
It’s called the Sandwich generation for a reason…you feel squished between the needs of your parents and your children! The pressure of trying to handle it all can become too much. There can be feelings of guilt, resentment and confusion. You might have questions such as:
· Am I making the right decision for my parents and my family?
· What about me? Who takes care of me?
· I’m physically and mentally exhausted, how do I keep going?
· Why isn't my brother/sister/family member helping out?
You might be feeling exhausted, like you can’t keep going. Or maybe you feel angry most of your day, especially at those you love the most. If is it feeling too much, it might be a good time to take a look at your situation and see if there are areas that can change. There are different parts to look at when you want to start to deal with your care-giving role. Some things to consider are:
· What do you want your care-giving to look like?
o You may want to continue to have a high level of involvement with both your parents and children, or
there might be certain tasks or events that you wished you didn't have to be involved in. Be honest about
how you feel. Be aware of “I should…” or “It is expected of me…” as these can be hints to the areas
where you may be experiencing the highest levels of stress and that need to change.
· Are there others who you believe could be involved?
o Make a list of those others and what you think they could do for your parents, children or you.
· Can you consider other services to help?
o Research on the internet what other services might be available in your community – there are free and
As much as you believe you are super human and able to handle anything thrown our way, everyone has their limits. The most important question is even if we could handle it all, do we want to handle it all?
Consider your boundaries. Boundaries help you and others. If you haven’t taken care of yourself then you won’t be doing your best to take care of your parents or your children or partner. The important first step is to be honest with yourself about how you are handling everything that is currently going on. If you continue to brush it off or think “I’ll just do this one thing and everything will be better” you are fooling yourself! Taking a clear look at where your life energy is going right now, is a stepping stone to making changes that will be healthier for you and for those around you.
When you do make changes, be prepared that others will resist or act angry, especially if that has worked for them in the past. If there is a family expectation that you are the only one responsible for certain tasks, be aware that changes might not happen overnight. Persistence is the key. Remembering that you are making these changes both for your own health and well-being, but also when you have more energy and time, your children and partner will appreciate it. There are always trade-offs to the choices we make….which choices will you make today?
If you would like to talk about your experience of living in a sandwich and receive support to exploring a different way of handling it all, give Heather a call at 604-375-3010 or email at email@example.com
So now that another Christmas season is over, think back to how it went. Were you stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? Have you vowed to do things different next Christmas? If so, now is the time to start taking steps to change things.
By now you should have 2 lists:
The next thing to do is to take your calendar (or go into your calendar on your phone or computer) and start planning backwards from Christmas.
When you need to talk to others, it will be helpful for you to be able to articulate your reasons for the change. Now in some circumstances, there is no need to tell people your reason, but if it is something that has been done for years and is assumed to be done the same way every year, it may go over better if your reasons, such as easier on the kids, more enjoyable, less stress, etc., are discussed.
NOTE: Take into consideration with who you are discussing the changes. You may feel more comfortable discussing more detail with some people than others. Just be aware if you believe this is an individual who will have an argument for every reason you have for change, you may need to stick to an easier, more repeatable message without a lot of detail. Know your audience!
For example, sending out Christmas cards/letters/emails can include:
- The name list
- Gathering addresses
- Buying the cards
- Buying stamps
- Addressing the cards
These are steps that can be done one at a time and can be completed before the Christmas season.
With pre-thought and pre-planning you can make your next Christmas more enjoyable and less stressful!
Dealing with house guests over the Christmas season? Going to family events?
Although the ads and songs call this the most wonderful time of the year, spending time with family members can sometimes be anything but wonderful! Think “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” and Cousin Eddie! It can be stressful being around the individual who becomes obnoxious after drinking; the person who talks non-stop; or the person who always says something with which you feel uncomfortable.
If you know that you will be spending time with an individual who is not your favourite person, it can be best to plan ahead on how you want to handle the person or situation. If you know that a person starts to become belligerent once they have been drinking too much, plan an early escape. Or can you offer to help walk around with hors d’oeuvres so that you don’t get stuck with the non-stop talking relative?
Remember, in the end, you can only control your own behaviour and how you respond, not what the other person is doing.
As Christmas day draws near, does your level of stress continue to grow? There is a certain franticness that grows as Christmas gets closer.
By now the school plays and concerts may be over, but there are still presents to buy, wrapping to be done, food to prepare, and parties to host. The endless “to-do” lists and thinking of “just one more thing” that needs to be done can lead to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Once the feelings of stress start, it can quickly spiral into feelings of guilt, resentment, and anger and thoughts of “not again”, “why am I doing this?” or “why doesn’t anyone help out?”
Last year did you vow to do things differently “next Christmas” only to feel like that Christmas has come again too fast? While it may seem that it is too late to change the feelings of chaos and overwhelm for this year, I have a few suggestions that while they probably won’t change everything this year, they can help you feel saner and make things more manageable. Some of these suggestions may be easier for you to do than others.
People tend to remember how they felt in a situation more than they will remember if there was the perfect amount of gravy or mashed potatoes. Relaxing and enjoying the moment can go a long way to make the season more pleasant for you and those around you.
Do you have favourite ways to relax and enjoy Christmas? Go and enjoy!
What is gratitude good for?
At this time of the year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people seem to start paying greater attention to gratitude.
Anxiety, anxiety everywhere
Anxiety, along with depression and stress are the most common reasons for people to visit their doctors. When experiencing anxiety you may feel frightened and alone. I’ve included some books suggestions for educating yourself on anxiety and the possible treatments (should I take medications? Attend for counselling?) as a good place to start.
I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor in BC. I work with individuals to help them get the life they truly want.