If you have children of university age, then this is the time of year when you may find yourself suffering from ‘Empty Nest Syndrome' .
The basic challenge is unchanged. Since your first child, your whole married life will have been re-shaped on the family model. Now you're relieved of that particular responsibility, you may feel suddenly empty inside and disoriented, sad and somehow disappointed at the unfilled space in your life.
So here are my eight stress busting tips
1. Immediate Action
Make a plan for the first few weeks, to take your mind off that empty room and the sudden quiet. A holiday, a short-term job, a study-course — these can all usefully alleviate this stressful phase.
2. Allow for emotion
Depart from your usual discipline-and-control mode. Acknowledge the strength of the emotional upheaval, and relieve stress by giving way to those involuntary urges to laugh, or cry out loud.
3. Retain some of the usual routines
If you find it disorienting suddenly cooking for only two of you, keep cooking for four, and just put two portions in the freezer for tomorrow. Then adjust when you're ready.
4. Cultivate conversations with others
You may have become accustomed to speaking to your child over the years about your daily activity — they are there to chat to. This is going to change as they will have their own lives to lead so now you're ready to re-learn the satisfying art of speaking to others.
5. Read all about it
The well-known syndrome has been the subject of many authoritative books. Read them, and see how other people's experience may match yours and what the experts advise to combat that possible sense of emptiness.
6. That empty bedroom
Don't leave it as a shrine to the absent loved one. Maybe use it for storage, or a study with a wall-bed. Maybe re-paint and decorate it anyway to freshen it up. But don't forget, your child may well come home at the end of term and still want have their room. You certainly don't want them to feel ‘pushed-out'.
7. Don't over-compensate
If there's still a child left at home, resist the temptation to smother-mother him/her all day by way of compensation. You'll be storing up big emotional problems for later.
8. Talk, talk, talk
You and your partner now have more time to discuss things in private. Use it to analyse the problems and the possibilities of your relationship.
Empty Nest Syndrome
- This phase of life is often identified with stress and depression
- Research shows that parents now feel more positive about it
- Check the practical stress- busting tips for coping with the syndrome
The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress stratgies — www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk
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