Resource Guide for Adults 40-60
Practicing mindfulness — through nature, volunteering or community involvement — can help you handle work and life
Thinking about what it means to be living well in New Hampshire as part of the current sandwich generation (40- to 60-year-olds) brings out seemingly diverse perspectives. Balancing increasing demands from blossoming careers can conflict with a desire to be there for our children who are growing up before our eyes. And as those children gain independence, our aging parents may need us more than ever — not to mention the boomerang children returning home after college.
The sandwich generation faces a whole new set of life balance issues. Schedules are often not slowing down, and for many retirement seems to still be a distant dream. But the beauty of our age is the perspective life experiences have provided. Looking back, we often wish we had savored more moments with special people or taken a chance when an opportunity came along. So now, those experiences more vividly remind us to pause and think about living more fully. How can we take care of ourselves while also responding to others’ needs? How do we balance that with an increasing desire to contribute to our communities and have an impact on the world?
Mindfulness is gaining popularity among all age groups. It is simply defined as moment-to-moment awareness. The state of being aware of the present moment and accepting your feelings and thoughts has become a powerful tool for individuals to live more purposefully. In our multitasking world, we can continually strive for productivity at the cost of purpose and meaning. Mindfulness helps us to focus on the task at hand with a clearer outlook and deeper understanding. Try a few simple practices.
Many businesses are bringing mindfulness practices to leaders to encourage them to look at challenges and opportunities more fully and deeply. Business consultancy firms like Sojourn Partners in Bedford and Global Round Table Leadership in Keene integrate mindfulness practice into their standard offerings. Other organizations like C Far: Beyond the Box use mindfulness practices to reduce stress in the workplace. When you drop your mental “to-do” list and focus on the present, you can open more bandwidth for new solutions and approaches.
Nature can also provide the perfect setting for mindfulness and self-care. Abundant trails in New Hampshire allow us to fully enjoy our natural environment and take care of our mind and bodies. Experiencing nature calms our thoughts and, with some attention, helps us to refocus on what’s really important. Organizations like the Society for Protection of NH Forests, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Squam Lake Nature Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy provide access to the wonderful healing powers of nature on their trails. Or check out state resources, your town clerk’s office or your conservation commission for local trail maps.
Taking care of ourselves also requires that we are thoughtful about what we put into our bodies and where it came from. Local farmers markets are a great place to start, even in the winter. They help us get excited about local produce and support our neighbors. Free publications like Fiddlehead Magazine feature local food choices and are available in local markets or libraries. There are also lots of markets that focus on or feature local product options, including Hannaford Supermarkets, the Co-op Food Stores and the Farm at Eastman’s Corner.
For a small state, New Hampshire also has lots of great organic and local food options to nourish yourself, including Pete & Gerry’s Organics, Stonyfield, MegaFood and Homefree. These companies demonstrate their care for our communities not only in the products they manufacture, but also in the impact they have in their workplaces and the places they operate. As four of the 10 Certified B Corps in the state, they focus on balancing profit and purpose.
Our relationships are critical support systems, providing balance and perspective when stress is building in one aspect of our lives. It may seem counterintuitive, but even in the midst of a hectic schedule, volunteer work helps to create stability and meaning. Volunteering in our communities (think about your town’s committees, perhaps energy, conservation, planning, elderly affairs, etc.) or local nonprofits helps us build a stronger connection to people in our communities, while also widening our perspective on what living in New Hampshire can be like for others.
Many businesses throughout the state offer paid volunteer time to their employees for many reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as a day offsite doing roadside clean-up or painting a home or community building together. These opportunities provide great team-building, especially when it brings together employees who might not otherwise work together. Other companies offer the hours to be used at the charity of the employee’s choice and many leading companies provide both. Timberland pays employees for 40 hours of community service each year and includes two special days with planned events around the world. Hypertherm pays employees for 32 hours a year and achieves an 85% participation rate. They hold an annual volunteer fair where nonprofits are invited to share information about volunteer opportunities to all three shifts at the company.
Why do these companies opt to pay employees to work elsewhere? In addition to the philanthropic reasons, they recognize the invaluable return on investment through positive impact in their communities, pride among their employees, enhanced teamwork and enticing potential new employees.
Sounds like winning reasons for all of us to get out there. Organizations like the NH Charitable Foundation, NH Food Bank and Volunteer NH, can connect you to volunteer opportunities wherever you are in the state.
Try a few of the above; you just might find you are living even better in New Hampshire than you were before.
Business Mindfulness Resources
Local and Organic Food
B Corps in NH