Finding a healthy life balance for women in their 40s in the 'Sandwich Generation'

For women in their 40s, self-care and mental health often falls by the wayside while taking care of children or aging parents.

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, January 11, 2024
Finding a healthy life balance for women in the 'Sandwich Generation'
Finding a healthy life balance for women in the 'Sandwich Generation'

LIMERICK, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Many women in their 40s feel overworked and overstressed - juggling children, aging parents, careers, and more. Self-care, especially for mental health, often falls by the wayside.

But a Montgomery County mom shares how she found the help she needed to regain her balance.

Paid Sponsorship with Main Line Health.

After the birth of her first son, Lisa Trott was sure the second time around would be just as smooth.

"People say: 'Don't have expectations,' or 'Don't just assume something's gonna go the same way.' I should have listened to them," she said.

Caring for a toddler and a baby was overwhelming.

"So I have a crying baby. But now I also have a crying three-year-old because there's this new person in the house," she recalls, adding, "I just found myself being really short, not having a lot of patience."

At her husband's urging, Lisa's told her obstetrician.

"And I started crying, and I almost couldn't get words out fast enough," she says.

Clinical psychotherapist Valerie Huff of the Main Line Health Women's Emotional Wellness Center says Lisa was experiencing postpartum depression.

Her stress hormones kept her on-edge and she felt no control over her growing responsibilities.

Huff says women's lives often become extraordinarily complicated in their 40s.

"Our boundaries are totally pushed in your 40s. And I think that's when you really have to start taking care of that word NO," notes Huff.

Huff says to establish healthy boundaries, first you must determine the most important needs and tasks, then stick with people who energize you, not those who drain you.

Also, limit or unplug from social media. Make your physical needs a priority - exercise, eat a healthy diet, and sleep - plus time before bed to truly relax.

And be honest with yourself. Don't damage your own self-esteem.

"You say to yourself: 'You know what? I am good. I'm not going to keep beating myself up with negative self-talk.'," Huff says.

When you set boundaries, explain to everyone why they're important to you.

"Caring for yourself has to be number one, because no one else is going to do it for you," she emphasizes.

Lisa's husband and family have taken over some tasks.

For one, her parents bring pizza on Friday nights. It frees Lisa from cooking and gives them quality time with their grandson, Noah, while Lisa focuses just on her younger son, Andrew.

With her bosses' backing, Lisa is turning her time boundaries at work into opportunities for others.

"What can I delegate to a team member of mine to help them grow, and make me more peaceful in my job?" she says.

Lisa says it's time to shake the belief that 21st century Superwoman stereotype.

"Yes, you CAN do all of this. But do you HAVE to do it all?" she says.