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How to Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome: Time to Focus on Yourself

If you’re a parent experiencing empty nest syndrome, a few steps and realizations can help. First, everyone’s experience, like each family, is unique. Try not to compare your experience to that of peers. Instead, take things at your own pace and understand that what you’re going through is natural – and it will pass. Here are a few more suggestions, adapted from the Mayo Clinic and other sources, on how to cope with empty nest syndrome:

older couple traveling in Rome

Focus on experiences you might have put off, like traveling.

Don’t be upset if your children move on faster.

Your kids may reach certain milestones faster or more slowly than you would have expected. Don’t take it personally. It’s difficult for some parents to let go, but the transition will be easier for everybody if you focus more on helping your child succeed rather than directing their path.

Keep in touch with your kids.

older couple talking on phone together

Remember: The kids are only a phone call away.

Maintaining regular contact with one another is beneficial for parents as well as children. Visit regularly and text, call, or email once a week or more. It may be a great time to try out video chatting apps like FaceTime and Skype if you haven’t already.

Seek support from loved ones.

Chances are many of your peers also are dealing with empty nest syndrome. Seek support from your partner and friends. Sharing experiences with one another can be therapeutic and encouraging. The Mayo Clinic also suggests seeing your doctor or a therapist if you begin to feel depressed or overly anxious.

Focus on the benefits of an empty nest.

six older people having a meal together

Reconnect with friends, who also might be empty nesters.

Embrace new experiences and rekindle old passions. Spend more time with friends and take on new projects at home or the office. Consider all the ways you can make use of the extra space and time that you now have. For many empty nesters, travel is a priority. Parents are now free to visit faraway destinations, less inhibited by costs and family scheduling conflicts.

Although empty nest syndrome is not a medical condition, its effects are authentic. Whether your response to an empty nest is positive, negative, or a bit of both, remember that your feelings are valid. Empty nest syndrome is a natural response to transition. There’s no shame in seeking help, and you and your family will be healthier and stronger for it in the long term.

How Long Does Empty Nest Syndrome Last?

One study found that one in four parents can shed empty nest syndrome in a month or less. On average, empty nesters reported shedding their negative feelings in about three and a half months. Once the kids were gone, most empty nesters refocused on traveling, health and fitness, and greater intimacy with their partner.

What do you think? If you experienced empty nest syndrome, how and how quickly did you overcome the negative feelings? Share your thoughts and insights with other parents in the comments below.

Sources and more reading:

Mayo Clinic

American Psychological Association

Psychology Today

University of Utah Health

Related articles:

How to Recognize Empty Nest Syndrome

Ideas for Empty Nesters: How to Use Your Extra Space and Time

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