THE EMPTY NEST SYNDROME ONE - Issue #14

Because at this time of year, it's a hidden sadness we have to deal with.

Hello Again!

How the devil are you? Keeping well & safe, I hope

Well, we’re deep into September now and with it comes the return to uni of our grown up children. And, this could be thought of as the “private grief” of every parent in this situation. There isn’t much talk about Empty Nest in the media or society as a whole. So, as parents, we crash on with our lives and deal with that grief in private. And, of course, the last thing we want to do is let our departing child know what a mess we really are.

So, for those of you in this situation, I thought I’d drag the syndrome into the spotlight and offer you some tips - see the article below


EMPTY NEST SYNDROME - The reality and some tips to help:)

I’m now on my third year of being an empty nester, although because of the pandemic, this hasn’t been linear. During the first lockdown last Spring, my youngest was home for an extra six months. Which was lovely for us, but not for her (and for all the other students missing months of their uni tuition and experience), and I fathom that will add to the toughness of this year’s empty nest.

And, with each September, it doesn’t seem to get any easier. So, over the three years, I’ve developed a few tips to help me cope a bit better:

  • Find a project that you can pour yourself into. It can fill the time that you might normally spend ruminating on your loss. And if you find one that provides you with some sort of finished article, such as something you can display around the house, then so much the better. There’s no better lift than looking at something you produced yourself entirely.

  • If you’re not coping very well, keep their bedroom door very tightly closed until you feel strong enough to go in and clean. Yes, the dust will be settling to inches thick and you may find mouldy cups and plates under the bed, but they will still be there when you feel strong enough to go in and retrieve them. And a blast in the dishwasher will soon sort those dirty pots out ;)

  • However, I need to add a note of caution here, on keeping yourself busy. Don’t fill your time so much that you don’t have time to wallow a little bit. If a wave of sadness hits you hard, and your situation warrants it, allow yourself a bit of time to accept and experience it, even only for a short time. This helps your subconscious in accepting the change, and you will feel better afterwards.

I hope these tips help, but if you need a bit more support and kind words, I produced an episode of the 45NotOut podcast looking solely at empty nest syndrome with a Harley Street Psychotherapist - Sarah Calvert. Sarah explained fully why the syndrome hits so hard and offers advice and solutions about how to cope. You can listen to the episode here .


SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE MID-LIFE WOMAN - Part 2

In part 1 of the Social Media and the mid-life woman I talked about even though we think that social media doesn’t affect us, it very subtly can. It’s a bit insidious, this social media thing, and I’m convinced in some small part it’s helped to escalate the stratospheric rates of anxiety we’re seeing in society. I’m not saying it’s solely to blame, but with all the usual pressures of life, coupled with the devastating pandemic nobody saw coming, I think it has its own small place in making our life less than perfect.

I know I feel less than perfect when I’ve overdone the social media thing. If I’ve had a lazy Sunday and spent far too long trawling through Instagram, then the following day I don’t feel my normal self. And I know where it comes from - a very subconscious comparing of myself to the glorious life those that I follow seem to be leading.

So, to reduce that horrible sinking feeling I get, I’ve established myself a bit of a social media regime. I’m not saying I follow it religiously, but if I manage it for a run of a few days, then I feel great and I can carry on with my week in a good humour.

This is what I do:

  • Apart from the vital ones (the ones where family members contact me), I’ve turned off the notifications on my social media platforms. That way, I don’t get tempted to go in and see what’s going on far too many times each day.

  • I’ve limited myself to go into my social media platforms twice a day. The first one is lunchtime (not first thing, because it’s very easy to get stuck down a rabbit hole and before you know it, you’ve wasted a whole hour scrolling). The second is at the end of my working day. I used to be worried that if someone had contacted me on social media and I didn't respond straight away, then I’d upset them. I now realise that a reply within a few hours, if not overnight, won’t offend anybody. And if they are offended, are they worth keeping in contact with?

  • The best quote I ever heard about social media is, Don’t compare your blooper reel to their showreel”. This means that on social media, you only see the very best (and possibly highly filtered) aspect of their life and you’re comparing it to your life, warts and all. Remember that when you start to experience that sinking feeling :)

So there you have it - my recipe for coping with social media at our age, and trying to limit the negative consequences it can have on our lives. As I stated in the first part of this article, social media is going nowhere fast and, in my humble opinion, it could replace some of the mainstream ways of communicating, such as phone calls & email etc. Retails brands are certainly moving that way. Have you ever tried to find the phone number of a brand to make an enquiry about an item? Nightmare!

So as we move into the brave new world order of e-communication, make it work your way, not the other way round :)


THE POSITIVITY BIT :)

As I promised in the last newsletter, I’m including something positive in every issue from now on. Well, we all need a boost from time to time, don’t we? So, this time I’ve used a tip from Vanessa King I hope it resonates with you :)

Learning new things, such as creative skills, has been shown to increase happiness - it can give you a sense of purpose, lead to greater satisfaction and its a way of making new connections with others. Finding something new that interested us can be energising too. So step outside of your comfort zone and try something new - maybe a pottery class etc. Don’t put pressure on yourself to master it straight away. Try saying to yourself - “I can’t yet”. instead of “I can’t”.

VANESSA KING - Expert in the application of positive psychology.


So that’s a wrap for issue #14. I hope it included something that resonated with you. If it has, and you know someone for who else it might resonate, why not let them know by sharing the newsletter. You can do this here:

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All that remains to do from me, is to thank you as ever for continuing to subscribe to the newsletter.

Stay safe, well & strong

Till a fornight’s time

Una x