How to Stay Happy, Healthy and Connected in Retirement
How to Stay Happy,
Connected in Retirement
What does retirement look like for you?
Retirement can look and feel very different for different people.
For many, retirement is a time of excitement and relief. After possibly decades of full-time work, in retirement, your time becomes fully your own again.
For others, retirement can feel a little empty or lonely—at least until new routines are established.
No matter what you’re retiring from, this phase of life often means new priorities, shifting relationships and reorganizing your daily life.
A 2019 survey found that the average retiree enjoys more than seven hours of leisure time per day. Meanwhile, census data shows that the average length of retirement is 18 years.
That’s a lot of time to fill. If you’re not prepared, retirement could leave you feeling a little adrift.
A bit of planning and forethought can help ensure that your retirement is full of joy, fun and healthy connection.
Below, we share four ideas to help you make the most of your retirement years.
1. Make a plan.
The first year of retirement is the most difficult for many. In particular, an abrupt shift from full-time work to full-time retirement can be a big adjustment.
Having a plan can help you avoid feeling lost or “at sea” while you acclimate to this new phase of life.
Think about the things you most hope to do in your first year of retirement.
This might include traveling to see family or friends, catching up on your favorite books or shows, creating art or simply spending more time at ease.
Then schedule your days, weeks or months, filling in these blocks first.
You can be as detailed as you like depending on whether you enjoy planning, need a lot of structure or just want a general plan of action.
Making conscious decisions about how you will spend your time can help keep you from feeling lost or accidentally settling into habits that don't suit you.
2. Tend to your relationships.
If you live with others, you may discover some truth in the aphorism, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” during retirement.
Suddenly spending many extra hours a day with someone—even those you dearly love—can cause stress that can lead to irritability or impatience.
Add to that a lack of communication and some relationships could begin to suffer.
If you or your partner is anticipating retirement, it may be a good idea to talk with them to get on the same page before you make the shift.
Discuss how much time you intend to spend at home, together and alone, to ensure everyone is prepared and no one ends up feeling either hurt or suffocated.
3. Build your community.
Often, one of the most difficult challenges in retirement is the loss of daily connection with other people beyond your partner or close family.
Choosing to spend your time in ways that also allow you to fulfill your human need for social connection can help with many aspects of your health and wellness.
If you have close friends or family, a regular lunch or weekly visit gives you the opportunity to catch up and connect.
You can also stay connected to others and your community by volunteering through your local community center, soup kitchen, Big Brothers Big Sisters or church.
Attending local festivals, events and parades can contribute to a feeling of belonging in your neighborhood or town. Even attending bingo night or community theater can help you stay engaged and connected to those around you.
4. Stay active.
Surveys show that retirees get a few extra minutes of exercise above the average each day at the beginning of their retirement, but it drops back to average after they reach age 65.
Physical activity is good for your body and mind. Experts suggest making it an integral part of your daily life.
Getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can help keep you feeling your best well throughout every year of your life.
Stay active by making time each day for a walk, tennis, golf, gardening or other activities you enjoy—bonus points if you also enjoy these activities with friends, family or other people in your community.
We hope these tips will help you enjoy your retirement to the fullest and help make these years the absolute best they can be.
If you’ve retired, tell us: How do you stay happy, healthy and connected? Share your tips in the comments below.
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