Retirement is a time in life that many look forward to. You may have spent a lot of time thinking and planning what to do when the time arrives. Now that you have retired, things aren’t as easy as you imagined. You feel lost, bored, and unsatisfied with life. There may even be times when you feel depressed about your lot in life.
Retirement has a substantial psychological effect on older adults, and there is a good chance, you will have to face them too. So how do you cope with life after retirement? In this article, we will discuss why retirement is a difficult time to adjust to and how you can deal with this adjustment.
Why Retirement is Difficult
One of the significant reasons why retirement may turn into a challenging time is because it often means a loss of identity. In all the years of your professional life, you probably identified with your professional self, somebody you could look up to. If you were a teacher, cook, banker, or anyone else, your entire life and now that this is gone, you feel lost. You may begin to question who you are, and this can be distressing.
When you eventually stop working, another problem may arise- the loss of companionship. You may have been close to your workmates, and now that you are not working, you feel lonely. All the years you spent working together caused you to develop a close bond with them, which is now lost. Without anyone to turn to, your life may feel empty.
Another issue you may face with retirement has so much time on your hands. Initially, the thought of being able to do whatever you want when you want may have been appealing, but now you find yourself with a lot of idle time. With so much time on your hands and nothing much to do, feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness may set in.
Retirement often means cutting down expenses and living on less. When you were working, you could spend more money because there was always a new paycheck to look forward to. Now that you are retired, you have to spend less and make the most of your funds. Such an adjustment may be difficult for some, especially if you are not used to living on a tight budget.
How to Cope with Life after Retirement
No matter what you have to deal with in your retirement, there are always ways to adjust. Here are some tips to help you cope with this new chapter in life.
Know what to expect
The emotional merry-go-round that comes with retirement is something you can expect to go through. To cope, you need to be ready for this adjustment. Initially, you will have a feeling of complete freedom as if you are on a vacation that will last forever.
After a few months of enjoying this freedom, you will notice that it fades away. Instead, you find yourself settling into a slower-paced lifestyle. By this time, you are bored and maybe even feeling guilty that you aren’t enjoying your retirement.
This is a dangerous stage to be in, and many turns to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol abuse or food in order to cope. Do not give in to this urge. Instead, allow yourself to feel the emotions you are experiencing and accept them. Look for healthy ways to deal with your passions, such as reading, yoga, or a hobby.
Try and Create Structure
Before retirement, your life followed a strict structure – wake up, take a shower, get breakfast, pack your lunch, and go to work. After work, you developed a similar routine each day. If you are one of those people who thrives with a fixed schedule to follow, you may need to create the same structure now that you are retired. This routine will help you plan your days.
To come up with such a routine, try and experiment with different activities from reading a newspaper, doing exercise, volunteering, and visiting family. If you can fit in the things you love within a day, you will find that your life feels more structured and rational.
Set Goals and Work to reach them
One of the things that gave you a sense of accomplishment before retirement was meeting milestones. These may have been small accomplishments like meeting a deadline or finishing a project, but they still fill you with a lot of joy. Now that you are retired, you can even set some goals and meet whatever task you set yourself.
Working towards a goal can give you a unique sense of purpose, and when you accomplish new things, you feel the achievement that you can’t get anywhere else. Make a list of the milestones you want to meet in the next month, six months or year after your retirement, and take note of them.
These goals may be as simple as travelling to a particular country or losing a few pounds or even finishing some books. There is no end to the goals you can achieve if you just put your mind to it.
Keep in touch with old friends
To prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness during retirement, try making it a goal of meeting friends regularly. In the past, you did not need to make an effort to see your friends because you probably spent every day with them at work. Now that you are retired, you need to put forth much more energy.
One way to make sure that you and your spouse continue to keep a good relationship with other couples, try and invite them to your home at least once a month. During the week, make it a point to meet with one friend a few times a week.
Keeping such connections can help promote feelings of belonging, so you don’t feel left out. With the extra time you have in your life, try and make new friends and nurture these friendships. You can even check your community centre or church for opportunities to meet people with similar hobbies and activities. The more you fill your life with friends, the better equipped you will be to deal with the challenges of retirement.
Consider taking on part-time work
Just because you retire, it doesn’t mean you have to leave the workforce altogether. Many older adults try a less-stressful secondary career after retirement, perhaps part-time. This job doesn’t have to be in the same industry as your former one, and it can even be something you enjoy.
According to research, retirees who decide to take on a job are healthier both mentally and physically and have higher levels of satisfaction. There are a lot of jobs available for retirees, including online jobs and internet marketing.
Volunteer your time to a cause
If going back to work, even part-time, doesn’t sound appealing; there are other ways to find accomplishment and satisfaction; one is volunteering. Those who volunteer for their time or skills regularly feel better about themselves and the world around them.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose that could easily replace the sense of purpose you got from your job in the past. Such a sense of purpose can have both psychological benefits and physical benefits such as a lower risk of hypertension and improved cardiovascular health.
There are many charitable organisations you can volunteer for, and all you have to do is check your local community centre.
Allow yourself time to figure things out
You may find that all the things you dreamed about doing during retirement do not give you the same level of satisfaction as you thought they would. This is normal. You need time to figure out how you want to spend your retirement and what makes you happy. Instead of feeling bad about your situation, give yourself time to figure things out.
There are many ways you can spend your time, so it may take a while to realise which works best. You may need to spend time experimenting with your activities until you find the balance of how you want to spend your time. Remember that there are always new things to learn and new hobbies to pursue, so take advantage of your spare time.
There are a lot of mixed emotions that you will experience once you retire. The secret is accepting these emotions and working around them. Although you may feel that you have lost your identity without your job, remember that there is still a lot you can accomplish in your retirement. All you need is a little more time to figure things out. In the long run, you will find that your retirement is indeed a satisfying and rewarding time in your life. Keep your eyes open to new activities or hobbies that will give you a new sense of accomplishment and incorporate them into your daily life. In all that you do, make it your goal to make a success of your retirement. With this positive mindset, you will never go wrong.
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