For years you’ve dreamed about a time when you can turn in your work badge and spend your days free from the worries and stressors of a fulltime job. During the pandemic, that’s exactly what many baby boomers decided to do. According to recent research, more than 3 million Americans retired early because of the COVID-19 crisis.
What’s interesting is that while many people ease into their retirement years and never look back, others have a more difficult time adjusting to the change in lifestyle. Today more than ever, retirement is taking on new meaning, and people in all walks of life are redefining what it means to retire. With that in mind, here are some tips to help ensure the transition is everything you hope it will be.
Find a purpose
All that free time may seem wonderful in the early months of your retirement, but you may eventually get bored. What’s more, you may crave a sense of purpose—a reason to wake up each morning. Over the years, you’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of mental stimulation, and you might need something to fill that void.
If you have a hobby, that’s great. Or maybe you have expertise that you could share with an organization in your community. Many retirees decide to work a part-time job, help raise a grandchild or mentor younger professionals. Without a sense of purpose, however, it’s easy to feel as if your life lacks meaning.
People need to be around other people. That’s one lesson that came through loud and clear during the pandemic. If you’ve worked all your life, your work colleagues are probably also your friends. Now that you don’t have that daily interaction, you will need to work harder at maintaining those connections while also striving to develop new ones. As you grow older, loneliness and isolation can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Invest some time now to create a plan for expanding your social network.
Adopt a routine
Sure, it’s really nice that you no longer have to wake to the sound of an alarm clock. But that doesn’t mean your life should lack structure. From an early age, humans respond best when they stick to a daily routine. So plan regular activities such as volunteering, exercising and getting together with friends. Similarly, try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. A regular sleep routine goes a long way toward improving your sleep quality.
Yes, we’re talking about exercise again. This may or may not be a habit you neglected because your schedule was too busy in the past. Now you can devote more time to exercise and fitness, and reap the rewards that come with it. Exercise releases endorphins in your body, and that helps boost your mood and improve your quality of life. Ideally, adopt a form of exercise that you enjoy because that will greatly increase your chances of staying the course. If it’s something you can do with a friend, even better. Now you’re improving your social life as well.
Stay mentally alert
Chances are, work kept you mentally stimulated. Now you may be challenged to find things that can fill that void. If you’re not involved with an organization, club or volunteer work that is mentally rewarding, you may want to learn how to play an instrument, write a book, speak a foreign language or cultivate a new skill. An active mind is good for your overall health and well-being.
Get along with your spouse
If you’re married or living with someone, you will undoubtedly be spending more time together than you did in the past. And if you’re both retired, there’s a good chance you will be together 24/7. That means your spouse’s quirky habits will likely get on your nerves more than ever, and vice versa. To avoid any potential problems, discuss how you will make the adjustment, and find healthy ways to spend time together and time apart.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.