Though it is not a clinical disorder, empty nest syndrome is a transition period when parents adapt to what their lives are like without children. Historically, the depression and anxiety that may accompany this transition period tend to affect women more often than men as women have been expected to stay at home and raise children in the “traditional American household.” Nowadays, as the traditional family looks vastly different–single parents, stay at home fathers, same-sex parents, etc.– the difficulty of transitioning through this period effects all types of parents.
What is Empty Nest Syndrome
Psychology Today defines empty nest syndrome by its symptoms: “Grief, depression, a loss of purpose and a sense of sadness may be experienced when children enter their own relationships or when they start their college careers.” Though there is no single remedy for this period, many methods of self care are encouraged. Empty nest syndrome may seem more intense for a woman who is also experiencing the effects of menopause.
Diet and Nutrition
When considering diet, opting for a diet that causes less gastric distress is important. When the body is processing difficult to digest foods, it can be taxing emotionally and mentally. Diets rich in nutrients and minerals, healthy proteins and fermented soy, and minimal in sugar and white carbohydrates is a good starting place. Taking a supplement like Effisoy, based in the science of fermented soy and estrogen regeneration rather than replacement, can also ease the effects of menopause.
Women going through menopause may feel a need to slow down their exercise regime, but studies show that women should actually continue exercising as much as they can as they age, incorporating all types of fitness: strength training to improve the muscles, balancing exercises for the joints, stretching for muscles and flexibility, and higher-impact aerobic exercises like running and walking to aid the skeleton. Exercise, along with being important for the body, also helps the mind by improving mood, bettering sleep, and decreasing anxiety.
Counseling and Mental Care
When experiencing empty nest syndrome, it’s important to take time to question the self as the transition occurs: Where is the sense of life purpose coming from? What parts of this period are easier and more difficult? How much of the sense of self was tied to being a parent, rather than being an individual? Forms of therapy, like psychotherapy and other types of counseling, can be helpful as a woman, as a parent, goes through their own questions of identity. Reconnecting with the self as well as with your partner are vital during this point of shifting. Filling daily life with work, with hobbies, with things that you want to do for yourself, is an opportunity to deepen, rather than an emptiness to fear.
These practices of scanning the self, emotionally, mentally and physically, during times of transition are important for women especially, but for all parents, during the transition of empty nest syndrome.