Our final tip this week comes full circle to taking better care of youself. The more you do, the better able you are to care for others. Remember what the stewardess says on each plane trip, put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help your children put on theirs.

Take care of yourself. You know what you need to do. Find a way to make it happen. Get a good night’s sleep – 6 to 8 hours a night helps you physically, improving your immune response, as well as emotionally. Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grain carbs. Participate in regular exercise to increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood, bring down resting adreneline rates and decrease depression. Increase your social network – going out with friends is not only fun, it lowers your inflammatory responses. Practice daily the stress reduction exercises we have talked about this week – deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation – to reduce your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones such as cortisol. Work on reframing your thoughts to keep from catastrophizing.

B. Lynn Goodwin has commented about blog this week and added another helpful tip for relieving stress. “Thanks for posting such helpful hints. Stress always rises in December and this year it could shoot through the roof as the economy looms large over all of us. Here’s one more technique for reducing stress. Journal about it. Let your fears spill out on paper. As you write you process stress, relax, and solutions emerge. You might find yourself feeling hopeful again. Want a little help getting started? Visit www.writeradvice.com, click on Journaling for Caregivers and explore. Everyone in the sandwich generation is a caregiver for someone. Be a caregiver who takes care of herself. Journal.”

These times of economic freefall are stressful for everyone. Investors are feeling insecure, not knowing what to expect next. Without a financial safety net, you may feel out of control as credit dries up, your 401K declines to a ‘201K’ and your retirement benefits disappear. It’s not easy to keep your emotions in check but you have a responsibility to learn to control your behavior so that it is not abusive. You owe that to your family – and yourself.

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