The “baby boom” generation—those born between 1946 and 1964— make up about 20% of the population in the United States and are in the age range of between 51-69. With this population comes a unique set of stressors. This article attempts to articulate those stressors for this group of people as well as some remedies to combat this in today’s hectic world.
Below are a list of stressors, including some that are unique to today’s modern family:
Money— With the Great Recession, the financial position of many baby boomers has changed radically, along with savings and investment options. As the cost of living continues to rise (food alone went up an average of 25% within a couple of years after the recession) fear of having enough money to retire is a very real stressor for many people in this demographic.
Healthcare—Boomers have an unusual situation within this realm as healthcare costs have spiraled in recent years. Couple this with the current Affordable Care Act and its possible repeal as well as higher rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes—despite a longer life expectancy—and it’s a major concern to this population.
Family Responsibilities—Baby boomers have a different role for family care-taking than in the past. Not only do they need to take care of aging parents— due to people today having a longer life-expectancy— but their own children are leaving home at later ages also. Having to care for aging parents with multiple health issues, while at the same time having their offspring still live at home is a common stressor for this generation.
Job Stability—With the increased stress of caring for aging parents or supporting their own children boomers are concerned for their jobs. This can be from missing work to care for an aging parents, worrying about not having enough money for retirement or fearing being replaced by a technologically advanced generation.
Although some of the stressors mentioned above may be unique to this generation, simple tools and techniques that have been around for decades can be used to combat stress and are just effective today as they ever were. Below are some simple ideas to “relax the body and quiet the mind” to reduce your stress level:
Exercise—Still one of the best forms of stress relief, exercise has many side benefits including better and more restful sleep, lowered appetite, keeping weight down and better mood. The most important thing is to find a form of exercise that you enjoy so that you’ll be motivated to continue doing it regularly. Brisk walking, swimming, biking or simple aerobics are just a few exercise areas to consider.
Meditation—This is no longer considered a mystical practice used only for deepening spiritual growth. Studies have proven meditation can lower blood pressure, help insomnia as well as a host of other benefits. Although there are many ways to meditate, the basic premise here is to quiet the mind by focusing on one thing only. Mantra meditation, where you repeat a work or phrase to yourself, guided imagery and visualization are all forms of quieting the “chatter” to allow your body to rest and recharge.
Self-Hypnosis. Although this is perceived by a lot of people as being almost other-worldly, hypnosis is actually rather mundane. It’s simply an altered state of consciousness where your subconscious mind is open to “suggestion”. It’s also a great form of relaxation and stress-reduction. You can easily find information on it online or at your local bookstore.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is a technique where you either sit comfortably or lay down and tense various muscle groups in your body (i.e. your entire arm) for 7-10 seconds, then release the tension quickly and notice—with focused attention— the relaxation in that muscle group. It’s a very effective method of relaxation that can also be paired with visualization.
The above-mentioned remedies are only a few of many techniques to combat stress. The key here is to get into a habit of whatever technique you choose and do it regularly. If the stressors are too great, it may be beneficial to get professional help. Call my office at (310) 879-5630 to set up an appointment.