Simplifying Life

Dear Dr. B: I feel trapped. I belong to the “sandwich generation”. I am worried about my parents’ health and my own health. I am worried about my business, my colleagues, my partners and my customers. I am trying to make enough money to give my family and myself a decent lifestyle but I don’t have enough time to spend with my young family. I am stressed, anxious and sometimes depressed. How can I deal with the situation? Yours Mr. SAD

Dear Mr. SAD: I presume SAD stands for stressed, anxious, and depressed. The concerns you share with us are not uncommon. These days it is difficult to have a decent lifestyle without all the members of the family chipping in. Therefore, what you are going through is a normal “cycle of life”. Most people in their forties and fifties are going through the same scenario.

But there is something you can do about it without ending up in the emergency room of your nearest hospital.

Let us put a positive spin to your problems. For example, parents can provide lot of wisdom and strength in difficult situations. I am sure once in awhile you do spend some time with them and talk about your problems. You will be surprised how they can make you feel better. They probably went through the same sort of problems in their own lifetime. But if they are not in good health and are unable help emotionally then that is understandable.

In any case, your current struggle is to find balance and equilibrium in life. You can achieve that as long as you are mentally strong and are ready to make sacrifices. Most of us complain about difficulties of life but have no will power or strong desire to do anything about it. And remember to make changes gradually. Do not shock your yourself or your environment with hasty decisions.

There are numerous books written on this subject. But the simplest and the best article I have read on the subject was printed in the Stratford Beacon Herald and reprinted on the editorial page of The Medicine Hat News on Wednesday, February 9th. 2000. It is simple and makes lot of sense. My prescription is to find this article and read it twice a day and follow its advice.

Here are few paragraphs from the article:

“How do we beat stress and keep its deadly side effects at bay? Probably one of the first (and maybe only) things we should do is to begin to simplify our lives.

It’s all about choice. We can choose never to say “no” to our bosses when asked to work late or take on extra projects. We can choose to work at jobs that keep us away from our families, but pay us well enough to afford the house with the three-car garage, the sports utility vehicle and designer clothes for the kids.

We just have to learn to choose how we live our lives instead of letting life make all the choices for us. If we don’t, then we’ll have to face the grim reality – in trying to have everything all the time, it may just end up killing us!”

So Mr. SAD, making changes in life is not simple! If you are determined to make changes and take care of your family and yourself then make a list of things that are important to you. Sit down with your family and some trusted friends and see how you can achieve your goal.

So simplify life and make some choices. Ask yourself: can I live happily without doing some of the things I enjoy? Remember, everybody’s life will go on with or without you. But what about your own life? Will you be there when your family needs you?

Good luck, happy choices and happy times!

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