Top 7 Tips to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome

Top 7 Tips to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome

Mathilde Frot

更新日期 January 16, 2020 更新日期 January 16

While empty nest syndrome, the feeling of grief at seeing one’s children leave home for the first time, is not a clinical condition, it can nonetheless be a very upsetting change, especially for parents with children studying miles, if not continents, away.   

Symptoms may include depression, excessive concern over the child’s wellbeing, and a sense of a lack of purpose. Research has in fact found that parents suffering from empty nest syndrome are more susceptible to depression, alcoholism, identity crises and marriage problems.

Long stretches of time spent without seeing your children, along with shifting identities and mounting anxiety can be unsettling and painful. But happily, there are steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms and get through this challenging time.

Continue reading for our top seven tips to cope with empty nest syndrome.

1. Pick up your phone.

An obvious one, but it needs to be said: don’t stop talking to your children just because they’ve left home. If they’ve got a busy schedule or they’re in a different time zone, ask them to set a regular time to talk – and schedule a weekly video call if you can. There’s no right or wrong answer to how often you should text, call or email – each family will be different. But remember that your kids will probably be missing you just as much (even if they don’t say so directly). Getting into a regular routine of communication will benefit both of you. 

2. Keep busy.

Avoid hanging around in your bathrobe at home with Joni Mitchell and a lonesome bourbon. Keeping busy will help you stay positive and readjust to your new life and schedule. What about all those things you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to or had no time for? Is it travelling? Starting up your own business? Learning German? Make sure your diary is full, and get out of the house.

3. Speak to someone about it.

While staying busy is great, don’t use your packed schedule as an excuse for bottling up your feelings. Reach out to your support network. Ask for help when you need it. Reaching out to your friends, partner or a mental health provider should help you acknowledge your feelings and learn to cope with them. You’ll probably find many of your friends have already been through, or are experiencing, the same thing. There’s no reason to try and deal with this very common, but nonetheless upsetting, change by yourself.

4. Work out.

If you haven’t hit the gym in a few years, now’s definitely a good time! If you lack confidence or need help in getting started, you could join a class for beginners or book a personal training session. Most gyms will have induction sessions anyway, to help new members learn how to use the machines and devise a personal training routine that works for them. Exercising will help you let go of stress, release endorphins and stay healthy. So do it!

5. Look to the future.

Having spent the past 18 years or so of your life in constant worry over the welfare of your kids, now is definitely the time to let go of some of that stress. Obviously, your kids will always need you to be present for them, but to a lesser extent. Look inwards: what personal projects have you always been meaning to pursue but have been putting off? Now’s the time to be selfish again.

6. Pick up a new (or neglected) hobby.

Pursuing a hobby – say, once or twice a week – is a great way to blow some off steam, learn something new and make new friends. What did you used to do before your children took over your life? Try picking up old hobbies where you left off, and take up something entirely new. This will also mean you have more to share and talk about when you speak to your children, instead of feeling left behind.

7. Practice mindfulness.

Prescribed as a therapy for depression, mindfulness – a mix of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and meditation – involves becoming aware of your physical sensations and thinking patterns, with the aim of learning to live in the moment rather than in anticipation of future stresses and potential problems. There are lots of books on the topic, as well as classes and courses, online video tutorials, and mindfulness apps such as Headspace.


How are you coping with empty nest syndrome? Comment below to share your story!

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

本文首发于 2016 Default , 更新于 2020 January 。


I'm originally French but I grew up in Casablanca, Kuala Lumpur and Geneva. When I'm not writing for QS, you'll usually find me sipping espresso(s) with a good paperback.

QS China