People my age (I’ll turn sixty in December), plus or minus a few years, are either retiring or thinking about retiring. Isn’t that everyone’s goal, to retire, to not have to work anymore, to sleep in, and only do what you want to do? But, is retirement good for us? There have been studies through the years that have shown how people’s health, physically and mentally, decline once they retire. Retirement is also listed 10th on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events. In fact, the reason I started to write this post was because I believed that retirement was typically an unhealthy thing to do. In researching the topic, however, I found some surprising data.
In order to understand this better, let’s discus some of the changes you may experience when you retire.
- Your sense of purpose may change. If you have had a career in some field that inspired you, that loss can leave you unmotivated and depressed.
- Your schedule changes. The time structure and hours you have kept disappear. Suddenly, you may find yourself sleeping late (not always a bad thing) and without a set schedule, you may find yourself not getting around to doing any of the things that you thought you would.
- Your secondary social environment is gone. For many of us, a huge part of the social interactions that we have during the day are with co-workers, clients, and/or customers. Many retirees experience loneliness
- Your physical life may change. While many people may have sitting jobs, there are also a lot of people that are physically active in their jobs. Construction workers to mail carriers will see a loss in the “mandatory” movement that their jobs required. Without regular physical activity, our health and ability to do daily tasks can be compromised.
Well those are some of the changes and some of the negative consequences that can occur when you retire, but… new research has been showing people are getting more out of retirement than they used to. It appears that the keys to their happier, healthier retirement are:
- Finding a part-time job doing something you love (either for pay or volunteering) to give you a sense of purpose. This can also help you build new social connections, possibly teach you new skills, and give you a schedule that can get you up and out of your house.
- Getting or keeping physically active. It’s so important for your health and physical independence to exercise, and now you have the time. Gyms, studios, or health clubs also offer another social environment.
- Continuing to learn. Whether it’s learning a language, arts, or even going back to college, cognitive challenges help maintain brain health.
So, if you are looking forward to retirement or are already there, these are the types of activities to incorporate into your vision of retirement to make the most of your health, fitness, and happiness. Live long. Live healthy. Live happy.