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As August begins, and kids head off to college, we wanted to share some important information on a very real challenge. Read on to learn about Empty Nest Syndrome.
You’ve done it. You’ve spent the last 18 years raising your child and he or she has successfully, (and quite joyfully most likely) graduated from high school. It’s bittersweet for you and you relish the sense of accomplishment, yet underneath there is a small wick of fear starting to burn.
What will you do…now? Who will you be….now?
While most parents feel moments of sadness, grief, or loneliness, there is also the chance that you are suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome. Instead of just moments, you find yourself overwhelmed and struggling every day.
What puts you at higher risk:
- Having a marriage that is unstable or unsatisfactory.
- If you’ve been a full-time parent.
- If you’ve never dealt with change well.
- If you are undergoing other high stress life events: illness, death of a spouse/parent, loss of a job, retirement.
- Alcohol Abuse
- Lack of social support/friends
How do I know if it’s really Empty Nest Syndrome?
The easiest way to know if you are experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome is to be honest with how much of your day, you are sad. Are you crying easily? Have no sense of purpose? Do you feel you are becoming invisible? You may find yourself battling constant anxiety and worry about your child. If you have the urge to call all the time, check on your child’s social media accounts daily or text for check-ins, it’s very likely beyond what is healthy for either you or your child.
How to cope with Empty Nest Syndrome…
The first step in coping with E.N.S is to accept that it’s real (even if it’s not a clinical diagnosis) and that you need to take action to feel better now AND as you transition to your “next act”.
Here are some ways that can help you feel better:
- Reconnect with your partner-
While it may feel like the last thing you want to do (especially if your marriage has struggled), many couples find a rebirth when their children move away from home. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to try to build new memories. Take advantage of not having to attend your child’s games or concerts. Set up date nights. Do the actions even when you don’t “feel” like it, and the positive feelings will follow.
- Identify new roles for you to fill-
You may find it best to jump into some volunteer activity quickly. This doesn’t have to be your true passion, at first it’s just important to fill the void of time. And many organizations in your community have an urgent need for help. Or what about helping a neighbor? Be known as the “generous” one, and say “yes” when friends ask for help with tedious tasks.
- Find Your True Passion-
Take up a new hobby or revive an old interest! There is so much you can do—try painting, photography, travel or woodworking. Maybe you secretly want to skydive. J
Courses at your community college, restarting a career—take time to explore those things that you put off while raising your child.to help “find your joy” again. Start writing down new dreams and ideas, and put it up where you can see it every day.
- Accept Support and Treat Yourself Gently-
Acknowledge your grief and treat yourself gently. Get a massage, go see a movie, buy your favorite candy. This is a great time to start a gratitude journal or daily meditation ritual (if you haven’t already). Talk with your spouse, he or she may have similar emotions and will be relieved to share with you.
Finally, there is a chance that you may need medical attention to ease your depression. If your feelings haven’t changed, or are getting worse speak to a mental health professional for treatment options.
Are you looking for more?
Here are some of our favorite resources for empty nesters:
Five for Life© and the Five for Life Planner© are a strategy, community and lifestyle designed to help mid-lifers create habits now for a happier, longer life. Connect here with other people who are wanting to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]