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Seven strategies to cope with empty nest syndrome

The years of hard work and sacrifice have paid off—your children have spread their wings and have left the nest to take their places as independent, functioning members of society. Even though this achievement should be celebrated, it can be challenging to transition from full-time parent to empty-nester.

Rather than finding yourself basking in your newfound liberation, the Empty Nest can make you feel empty, purposeless, and lonely. Of course, it is important to maintain contact with your adult children, and with videoconferencing and social media platforms, this is easier to do now than ever before. That said, you don’t want to spend every minute by your phone. Instead, consider trying some of these strategies to overcome feelings of emptiness.

Learn something new

Is there a hobby that has piqued your interest in the past but that you never had time to commit to? Consider the empty nest as an invitation to commit to it now. The pandemic has moved quite a lot of courses online, so you may not even have to shell out much cash to learn that thing you’ve always wanted to do. However, if it is safe and accessible for you to do so, then enrolling in a class could be a nice way to get out of the house and meet others with similar interests.

Set up a new daily schedule

You may already have a schedule for the greater chunk of the day, but if you’re wondering how to fill the time you usually spend with your kids, which for many people is likely before and after work, then consider taking up a couple of regular healthy habits. For instance, try a daily morning walk, or use your evening downtime to reach out to people you haven’t had a chance to connect with for a while.

Read or listen to a book

If you find yourself missing the chatter and company of your children, then consider filling that void by joining a book club or picking up a good read at your local library or bookstore. If reading isn’t your thing, then throw on a compelling podcast or audiobook to fill the silence.

Revisit old friendships and connections

While raising a family is considered one of the most rewarding accomplishments, it does take up a lot of time, energy, and attention. Losing touch with friends isn’t uncommon once kids are in the picture, so now that they’re taking on the world on their own, take this opportunity to reconnect. Perhaps check up on old friends or reach out to other parents who may also be struggling with empty nest syndrome.

Plan a trip

If you are able to free up your schedule (or if you work remotely) then perhaps you can use your freedom to explore a place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Of course, the pandemic may make your options limited, but now is the perfect time to discover new places and people.

Work towards a goal

Motivate yourself by finally committing to a goal that may have been collecting dust in the back of your mind. Whether it’s regular exercise, eating healthier, or finishing the partly done DIY project sitting in the garage, make sure to set a schedule and check-ins to stay on track. If you can, get yourself a coach or find a friend to do it with so that you can motivate each other and hold each other accountable.

Practice meditation and mindfulness

Your home is likely much calmer and quieter now. Instead of wallowing in silence, take advantage of this change by using it to find ways to become more grounded and present. Instead of telling yourself what you’ve lost, find encouragement and joy in the opportunity you have to focus on yourself and your broadening horizons.

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