How to handle retirement positively
Are you nearing retirement and aren’t sure how to handle it? There are many ways to prepare yourself for this moment and stay positive. Find out how!
Many of us spend years imagining what our retirement will be like: travelling, spending more time with family and friends, spending time on other activities like painting, gardening, cooking, playing golf or fishing, or simply enjoying the freedom to relax.
Initially, escaping the everyday work routine and work commute can be a huge relief. However, after a few months of retirement, we find that the novelty of being on a permanent holiday starts to wear off.
It’s possible that the meaning and purpose of life starts to dissipate, you miss the routine you once had or the social aspect of having work colleagues, and instead of feeling free, relaxed and satisfied, you are bored, drifting and isolated.
How to handle the retirement phase positively?
Retirement involves a significant life change, which can bring stress but also many benefits. It is important to plan the transition and tackle retirement in a healthy way to adapt to the new stage of life and guarantee a happy and rewarding retirement.
How to prepare for retirement
- Accept and normalise the change: although it is an inevitable part of life, coping with change is rarely easy, it can seem like life speeds up and physical and health challenges increase. Responding to these changes with a variety of mixed, and often conflicting, emotions is normal. The first step is to accept it.
- Recognise your emotions: if you feel sad, anxious, distressed or with a mixture of emotions, by recognising and accepting what you are feeling, you will find that even the most intense or unpleasant emotions will soon pass. Emotions are transitory states that we can act upon with new routines and healthy and positive behaviour.
- Accept the things you can’t change: criticising situations you have no control over can be exhausting. Look back to the changes you have faced in the past to remember that you can also handle this change in a satisfactory way.
- Adjust your attitude: think about retirement as a journey, instead of a destination. Give yourself time to resolve everything; you can always change direction if necessary. You can also adjust your attitude by focussing on what you are gaining, instead of what you are losing.
- Redefine your identity: after retirement, you can find new ways of defining yourself, through activities and friendships not related to work.
- Look for social support: you don’t have to face the new challenges of retirement alone. Many others are going through the same difficulties. Sharing the load can help to alleviate your stress and strengthen your coping skills.
- Strengthen your social network: staying connected socially can have a huge impact on mental health and happiness. You are never too old to make new friendships.
- Healthy diet: maintain a healthy diet. Your body and mind will thank you.
Look after our mental health after retirement
Regardless of the challenges you face, there are healthy ways of alleviating stress and anxiety, coping with change and improving your mood, perspective and general well-being.
- Practise relaxation: regularly practise a relaxation technique, such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing. This can help you to alleviate anxiety and stress, reduce blood pressure and improve the general feeling of well-being.
- Stay active: add a routine to your days: physical exercise is a highly effective way of improving your mood. Age or mobility limitations don’t matter, there are many ways of obtaining benefits from regular exercise. Try to do 30 minutes of activity most days.
- Practise gratitude: take a moment to appreciate the small things in life: a telephone call, a song or the feeling of the sun on your face. Enjoy the little things!
- Break the habit of worry: chronic worrying is a mental habit that you can learn to break. Challenging your anxious thoughts and learning to accept uncertainty in life can calm your mind, look at life in a more balanced way and reduce the time you spend worrying.