Ask Kari: How can I avoid being a lonely empty-nester?
Dear Kari,My youngest child just graduated from college and I recently downsized my home. I moved to another town and at first felt excited about all the new changes in my life, but now I am finding myself scared and feeling lost with what is ahead for me. After raising a family and working most of my life, I now have options and choices, but I am afraid of making a mistake. Plus, I am feeling lonely most days with all this adult freedom. Help, how can I cope with all these changes and be happy?
Dear Feeling Lost,
You have entered a new period of a normal life transition to mature adulthood with options. To begin to map out what is next for you, take time to view your life in the upcoming year; what do you hope for yourself, how would you like to spend your days if given the choice of choosing activities that speak to you? I often ask my patients to reflect on what a good day looks like to them. Answering this reflection question can provide us with a view of activities that speak to our heart and spirit. Once you reflect on the things that most speak to you, sprinkle a few of those activities into your week/month. Spending time doing what matters most to us stabilizes us through periods of transition. Lastly, do not let fear and anxiety (which are both normal feelings for everyone) prevent you from making choices. Make a choice. If it is a match for you, great! If not, take that experience as good information to use in the future. Best wishes to you as you move your life forward!
Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.
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