When you reach the end of a long, tiring, and, hopefully, fulfilling career, you will have the unusual prospect of an open calendar ahead of you. Retirement can be an exciting prospect as you think about the freedom and the ability you will have to control your own schedule, but it can also be intimidating.
After years of routine and daily social interaction with colleagues, clients, and customers, switching to a life of leisure can shock the system. You have all the time in the world at your disposal, but how will you fill that time?
Some people are concerned that once they retire, they will lose their sense of purpose and structure. So, while they feel excited about the possibilities ahead, they are balancing their optimism with very real concerns. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are not uncommon for retired people. If retirement is on the horizon for you, you need to take proactive steps to look after your mental health.
Discover What Motivates You
During our careers, we follow a routine and have a clearly defined role with responsibilities and priorities. With the exception of self-employed individuals, having a career usually means we work with others in a team, making us feel part of a community. When we do not have a purpose, we can lose motivation and our sense of identity, which in turn can affect our self-esteem.
Retirement can remove our sense of purpose and rob us of structure, so it is important to replace our career with another project which motivates us. Just because you do not have a career does not mean that you cannot still fill your days with meaning and fulfillment.
The key is to find a way to occupy yourself so that you feel you are making a valuable contribution to the world. Your contribution might help your friends, family, community, or society, but the key is that it gives you purpose.
If you are a creative person, find an activity (or revisit a past interest) that enables you to express your feelings. This could be painting, drawing, creative writing, sculpture, or any activity which brings you peace and purpose. If you have green fingers, perhaps you could help others to maintain their gardens? Some retirees decide to help out at a local school by hearing children read or supporting lessons.
Alternative ideas include volunteering in the local community to help a cause that you are passionate about, visiting with patients at a hospital, or even starting your own business or not-for-profit organization.
Stay Connected to Others
Humans are social creatures, and we are at our best when we feel part of a community. Maintaining meaningful relationships and socializing can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. When we stop working, we have to be more proactive about widening our social circle and making an effort to stay in touch.
Why not make a weekly or monthly date to meet up with friends for a coffee, or join a local club where you can meet people with similar interests? Social media platforms provide people with a convenient way to connect with old and existing friends and interact with new people worldwide.
Many retirees choose to move closer to their families to spend more quality time with them. In contrast, others might opt for an assisted living community like Granvida Carpinteria offered by Frontier Management, where they can live independently amongst people of the same generation.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Many people do not realize that there is a strong connection between their physical health and mental health. When retired, you will have more time to take care of your health with regular exercise, a balanced and nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, and drinking plenty of water. A healthy lifestyle gives us more energy and helps to regulate our mood.
You do not have to push yourself to the limit at the gym every day of the week. Simple exercises like walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, and stretching exercises can be hugely beneficial. You are far more likely to continue with exercise that you enjoy. Look for a new sport or exercise that you can integrate into your day easily. There may be clubs in your local area which organize activities for seniors.
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying treats and overindulging from time to time, the majority of your diet should be in low saturated fats, sugar, and salt. For more information on healthy eating, click here.
The National Institute on Aging recommends that older adults get around 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to feelings of irritability, forgetfulness, slower thinking, and being more prone to accidents and falls. If you are having difficulties getting enough sleep because of physical discomfort or medication that you are taking, speak to your doctor.
Anxiety about Your Health
Your mental wellbeing can be negatively impacted if you are worried about potential physical health concerns. To keep your mind at rest, you should attend all your routine check-ups with the doctor and dentist and take advantage of any available free screening programs. If you notice a change in your body that you are concerned about, make an appointment with your doctor so that the worry does not weigh on your mind.
Security and Safety
Emotional stability is far more likely when you feel safe and secure, and this can come from many places. For example, feeling physically safe in your home and your local neighborhood, financially secure, and emotionally supported by friends and family will help you relax and focus on making the most of your retirement.
Remember that if you are struggling with loneliness, anxiety, depression, or want some advice, there is support out there for you. Some people are reluctant to speak up when they are struggling emotionally, but it is important to realize that mental illness is not a weakness but a real health condition that can be treated.