Empty nest blues is not something that comes as a surprise. Probably for some time now, your heart has been missing a bit every time you thought about this moment.
You can barely remember what life was like before you brought your kids into the world. Volumes could be written about what you have experienced together since then. So much joy, so many challenges, good and bad days. First smiles, teeth, steps, words… and then so unexpectedly quickly, first exams, driving tests, broken hearts, and now -packed suitcases.
You had known for months this moment was coming. You thought we were ready.
Yet, you wake up one day and the house is so quiet. And you just can’t stop the tears flowing down your cheeks.
Where are all those years gone?
You are a wise, resourceful, mature woman. You know, you will be ok. You understand perfectly well it’s just the beginning of another chapter. You want all this to be happening – you want your kids to go into the world, to learn and grow, to have a beautiful and happy life, to fulfil their potential.
But … no matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it, it doesn’t change the fact that you feel lonely, left behind, and heartbroken. And maybe a little anxious about the future.
Well, you’re not alone. We all go through this experience at some point. And for some of us, it does feel like the end of the world. I know, it’s hard. But believe me, if you handle it right, it can be the opening of a truly beautiful and fulfilling new chapter of your life.
Here are 5 essential things you need to do not only to survive the most difficult time but also to start your journey back into thriving and blossoming!
1. Empty nest triggers intense emotions. Embrace all of them.
That’s the most important bit. There’s no use denying, ignoring, or trying to suppress your feelings. You always pay a high price if you go for any of these options. Gathering emotional baggage will only increase your stress levels, reduce your energy and may have really serious health consequences in the long term.
Emotions are like waves of energy. If instead of resisting or fighting, we choose to acknowledge, welcome and befriend them – they will flow through our body, shift, and change.
Allowing ourselves to dive deeply into our sadness and feelings of loss may seem scary, I know. But I assure you if you learn how to do that with awareness, gentleness and acceptance, it will not only bring you a huge relief but it will also be the first step to building your emotional strength and resilience in the long run. (Read this to learn how to do that with ease!)
So, stop pretending ‘all is grand’ and instead learn to ride the waves!
2. Ground yourself!
If you could see me at some of the most challenging moments in my life – you would probably see how I scrub the kitchen floor on all four or clean all the windows in the house, no matter what the weather is like.
When times get really tough, I need intense movement to help me stay grounded and connected to my body. It gives my nervous system an opportunity to regulate and a bit of time to process whatever is throwing it out of balance.
The most important thing when emotions are high is to stop allowing your mind to hijack you for crazy rides into all of the negative stories about what has just happened, why it is so terrible, and what’s the worst-case scenario for the future.
Instead of thinking and analysing your empty nest, try to stay connected to here and now by staying focused on your breath and your body. Finding a way to move your body can help a lot here.
Movement creates movement. If you move your body, you start a whole chain of chemical and hormonal reactions in the body. Your energy starts to shift. And when the energy changes, the emotions change too.
It can be any kind of movement that makes your heartbeat speed up a little.
Go for a run or for a brisk walk at least. Change the environment. Connect to nature. Dancing also does miracles- even if you don’t feel like dancing at all.
3. Once the nest is empty, it’s time to make yourself your # 1 priority.
Do you find it difficult to focus on yourself and instead, desperately try to keep yourself as busy as possible!
Do you do everything you can not to spend too much time one-on-one with YOU?
You might not be doing it consciously. It might seem like life is just full of other, more important things to do.
But if you notice that you have no quality time with yourself, please stop for a moment. There are many things (and people) in life you can avoid- but it’s neither easy nor wise to avoid yourself,
While you are getting used to the empty nest- it’s time to honestly look at your needs at desires, at your values and priorities and at your passions and dreams. Without that, you will feel lost and confused and you won’t be able to create a life that feels truly fulfilling.
It’s high time to discover and rediscover tools, techniques, practices that allow you to be with yourself in a gentle, non-judgmental and accepting way. Tools and practices that help you connect to your heart and see what it longs for. Tools and practices that allow you to create a healthy and joyful daily routine that will nourish your body, heart and soul.
On the biological level, you might not bear any more children in your womb, but your creativity is at its peak and your amazing power to bring the NEW into the world is on the increase. Use it wisely!
4.Find ways to keep in touch with your kid(s) that work for both of you.
It can be a challenge as it is not only your life that is changing but your kids’ lives as well.
You need to find a way that feels good for both sides.
Keeping up regular communication is essential to maintain the sense of family togetherness. You will feel much better knowing ‘the news’ and that they are safe and ok.
It is also very important for them to know that you are here all the time if they need you. Knowing that home is a safe base makes first trips into adulthood so much easier.
On the other hand, it’s also always so important for your children to feel you trust that they can manage living out of home, cope with new challenges of independence and take good care of themselves. They need you to believe in them.
So give them space and do not expect too much! Try to be sensitive to their need to grow and become their own adult person. The best way to do this is to talk openly, ask what they need from you and… listen.
Remember, your relationship is changing. The fact that you spend far less time together, doesn’t mean that you are growing apart. The bond between you and your kids can become even stronger once they are gone. They still need you a lot – just in a very different way!
5. Reach out for support!
Don’t try to cope with your empty nest alone – it’s much harder on your own and there’s no need to struggle in silence.
Sometimes all you need is a friend. Sometimes, if you feel really stuck or overwhelmed it’s best to reach out for professional help. But in each case, what really matters is that you do reach out.
If you have a partner/husband, you will go through this stage together and, hopefully, support each other. Just remember that men usually experience and cope with this transition in a very different way Don’t let this challenging moment create extra tension in your relationship. Respect the differences. Give as much as feels right, take as much as is offered freely.
But keep in mind a community of women, especially those your age or older, is the resource, your heart is truly needing right now. Find it – a women’s group/circle/community – offline or online will save you a lot of suffering.
There are many other things that you may find helpful during this transition. Follow your intuition and your heart. You know best what works for you. It’s not the first challenge you met on your way. Remind yourself about your strength and resilience and that future is wide open and offers many possibilities.
The waitlist to Self-Love Incubator Inner Circle is open! Here you will find a beautiful and supportive community of other women who will carry you through this change! Click below to sign up: