Empty nest syndrome isn’t just a myth. It actually describes a tough transitional period that can affect parents after their children leave home. Parents can experience a variety of emotions about their child’s wellbeing after they “leave the nest,” including worrying about their health, financial status, schooling if they’re in college, relationships with others, and so many other life concerns.
“Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or sadness that occurs among parents after children grow up and leave home,” according to Psychology Today.
And this syndrome isn’t just exclusive to women. Men are susceptible too. The depression caused by empty nest syndrome is very real.
Worried Parents Face Depression and Lack of Sleep, Study Reveals
A new study published in The Gerontologist has confirmed the stress placed on parents when their adult kids leave home. Are You Sleeping? Dyadic Associations of Support, Stress, and Worries Regarding Adult Children on Sleep is a study conducted by researchers from Penn State, Brigham Young, and University of Texas at Austin.
The researchers examined “the dyadic associations of support for, stress over, and worrying about adult children on sleep quality for husbands and wives.” Study findings revealed that both women and men were affected by worrying about their adult children’s wellbeing.
According to one of the study’s researchers, Amber J. Seidel, Ph.D., of Penn. State University, “Current research on young adults suggests that parents and children are maintaining high levels of involvement,” she said. “Although parents and adult children have always maintained some level of involvement, we do see an increase in what is often termed ‘helicopter parenting’ and ‘landing pad’ children.”
Empty Nest Syndrome Suffers Can Do This
Feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss of purpose after a child leaves home is natural. The good news is that parents suffering from empty nest syndrome can do a few simple things to help deal with the stress and even sleep better at night. Seidel agrees that taking action is the key to coping effectively.
“It is important to remember that having stress present in our lives is not the problem,” Seidel told CBS News. “It’s the inability to cope in healthy ways with the stress that is problematic and may lead to immune suppression.”
To reduce stress, sleep better, and maintain a healthier outlook on life, check out these seven tips:
1. Exercise Every Day
Exercising daily helps improve your health. It can even lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Plus, with a regular exercise routine, you are more likely to feel better and get better sleep.
2. Keep a Journal
Writing in a journal often brings about peace of mind once you get your thoughts out on paper, helping to ease worry and stress. It is mentally healthy to express your thoughts, even when you are writing them down.
3. Eat Well-Balanced Meals
Eating a healthy diet every day helps promote sleep. Plus it does wonders for your overall health, including with weight management, reducing the chances of disease, and promoting brain health.
4. Take Time for Yourself
Make sure to take time for yourself each day. Read a book, watch your favorite show, listen to music, or go for a walk. Taking “you time” ensures you do healthy, relaxing, and fun activities each day.
5. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Doing so will help reduce anxiety and even panic attacks.
6. Do Community Work
Get out of the house and work in your community. This helps you stay connected with others. It can also help promote happiness and feelings of overall satisfaction with life.
7. Talk to Someone
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Whether you talk to your significant other, children, friends, or a therapist, it’s always good to let others know how you’re feeling. Talking to someone else can be freeing and dramatically reduce stress.