What is Empty Nest Syndrome (and What To Do About It)
Empty Nest syndrome is something many women (and men) experience after their last child has left home. I have read through many threads in empty nest Facebook groups with comment after comment stating just how sad and miserable the commenter is in their empty nest.
The basic causes of empty nest syndrome and why we might be sad is that our children have left home and there is a whole new life to adjust to. But there are several more layers underneath the adjustment causing empty nest syndrome.
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
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A quick “google” of empty nest syndrome will tell you that empty nest syndrome is the “sadness or emotional distress affecting parents whose children have grown up and left home.”
I came to a better understanding of what causes it after reading “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee.
Ms. Lee writes:
“After much research and testing, I concluded that there are five major determinants of happiness. They are:
- Believing that one’s life has purpose
- Having a sense of belonging
- Culling happiness from moments and experiences
- Helping others feel loved and cherished
- Using the power of our minds to learn, play, and dream”
Eureka! I shouted when I read this. These are exactly the things a parent loses if they have not determined in advance from where they will derive these determinants of happiness once their children leave home.
If all of your purpose, sense of belonging, moments, experiences, love, and dreams are wrapped up in your children, you will have none of these things left when they leave.
How to avoid empty nest syndrome
So, sister, her list is where you need to start to get your life back. You must find new purposes. You must find new places to belong. You must find moments and experiences that do not involve your children. You must find others to love and cherish. And you must find new things for your mind to learn, play, and dream.
Is that an easy task?
But, with some effort you can do it. Here are some steps.
How to deal with empty nest syndrome:
1. Take the Empty Nest Super Power Quiz.
Start with your interests. Take the Empty Nest Super Power Quiz. The quiz will help you determine areas of interest and places to focus your time and mind. Read through your results and follow the Empty Nest Super Power Guide.
2. Start working on your purpose
Read 5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester
Keep researching, reading, and listening to positive sources of inspiration including The 10 Best Empty Nest Books.
4. Stay positive
Keep your social and other media positive. Unfollow or even unfriend those who bring you down with their posts. (On Facebook you can click on the three dots at the top right of their post and choose “unfollow.” This will hide their posts without them realizing it. For some positive social media accounts, check out 8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters. These 5 Best Podcasts for Empty Nesters will also inspire and uplift you.
5. Get Help if you need it
If you are so low that you have lost interest in even trying to find new purposes, get help. A good place to start is with your primary care physician. They can help you determine if you have a deeper depression. They can then recommend counseling and/or medication that will help you adjust to your new circumstances.
6. Most importantly, do not give up.
No one ever promised that dropping your last child off at college or helping them move into their first place was going to be easy, but it is not impossible either. Empty Nest Syndrome can be overcome. You just have to take the first step. If your nest is not yet empty, prepare in advance by exploring your interests and new places to belong once your nest is empty. To see all of my Empty Nest posts, go HERE.