Inspiration

Patricia Heaton Shares 5 Tips for Thriving During the Empty Nest Years

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Three-time Emmy Award–winning actress, author, wife and mom Patricia Heaton, 63, shares her secrets for more joy, less stress, and a healthy mind and body.

In her new book, Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention (Buy from Amazon, $15), Patricia Heaton explores stories of real women who have reinvented themselves and embraced their own second act in the realms of health, wealth, love, and beyond.

Peppered throughout with lighthearted anecdotes from her own experiences, Patricia shares how she’s navigating her own second act as an empty-nester after her four boys left home. “All growth comes with a level of pain,” Patricia shares. “But down in the depths of my soul, I know I must try to enjoy it all — even the painful parts!”

Sharing her journey through past losses, successes, and passions she’s rediscovered in the wake of her sons’ departures, Patricia hopes that she can inspire readers to find strength of mind and strength of character.

“You have to dig deep and get out of your comfort zone to find true fulfillment,” she says. “Each new challenge I’ve faced, including this new phase of life, has been a chance to get out of my comfort zone and find a great adventure on the other side!”

Known for her bright smile, easy candor and successful career spanning more than 30 years, it’s easy to think that Patricia Heaton has it all. But the actress and comedian, beloved for her roles on Everybody Loves Raymond and Carol’s Second Act, has also faced life’s challenges, including tragically losing her mom when she was 12. “That heartache made me resilient,” she shares, a trait that, along with her faith, has kept Patricia hopeful as she enters her “second act” of life as an empty-nester.

“In every new phase, you see more clearly what’s most important, and for me right now, that’s family, faith, creativity, and doing good in the world. When you prioritize those things, every day is an adventure!” Here, Patricia’s tips for staying healthy and worry-free in your second act. 

Making lists tames anxiety.

“A lot of my anxiety comes from the image that I don’t have control over things,” Patricia shares. “So I find it’s good to write down the things I’m worried about and then the worst thing that could happen. Then I ask myself what I can do about it and write those things down too. A friend once told me that’s the best way to deal with an issue. As it turns out, making those lists actually works for me, and I take pleasure in ticking off the things I can actually do to overcome challenges. It gives me strength to look at everything else on the list and decide how to tackle it.”

A daily dose of laughter is the key to balance.

“It’s absolutely true that my keys to balance are spirituality, family, and laughter,” Patricia says with a smile. “Those are the things that matter most!” For Patricia, laughing every day is essential, and she turns to her favorite TV shows to do it. “I love watching The Great British Bake Off and The Office reruns — Jim Gaffigan and Jerry Seinfeld on TV always make me laugh too. That release is so relaxing and gives me peace.”

Step-by-step progress fuels motivation.

“I’ve learned that a lot of worry can dissipate if you take a look at your problem and break it down into manageable bits,” Patricia advises. “I look for places where I can take basic steps to clear some of that stress. For me, an easy one is cleaning — my dishes, my pantry, my closet. Instead of retail therapy, it’s my Marie Kondo therapy! Just doing something physically and standing back to say, I’ve accomplished something, does so much good for the soul.” In fact, studies show that just 10 minutes of mindful tidying can slash stress by 27 percent!

Low-carb treats melt a menopot.

“Now that it’s just me and my husband at home, we eat lots of chicken, salmon, greens, overnight oats, and lentil soups,” Patricia says. “On Sundays, if I want a treat, I’ll have a CarbSmart fudge bar that is about 60 calories. I’ve loved Fudgesicles since I was a little girl, and it’s a guilt-free way to satisfy my sweet tooth!”

Biotin makes hair fuller and healthier.

“I love taking biotin — it’s made my hair so strong!” Patricia shares. Studies show that taking 3 mg. of biotin daily can thicken hair by 24 percent in a month. One to try: NAOMI Keratin with Biotin & Resveratrol (Buy from Amazon, $35).

This story originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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