From working years to the freedom years, retirement is a major life change. An era of structure is met with no given structure. This life change is a major transition for many retirees, and it is important to not only prepare your financial portfolio but take steps to tend to your mental health just the same. When 20% of retirees report “retirement blues” it is important to understand why and how to combat it. Mental health should always be taken seriously.

            The loss of structure from the pre-retirement years is reportedly the biggest factor into retirement related depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Having a career or a major role in raising the family provided a sense of identity, and when retired most folks lose that sense of identity. The daily routine and social interactions of coworkers and employees becomes obsolete. The extra time at home becomes an adjustment for everyone living in the household, too. The extra tension puts strain on relationships, making the transition into a comfortable retirement harder. And for retirement to be enjoyable it is important to speak up and take action to prevent the onset of mental health concerns.

            Easing these feelings can be done in a variety of ways. One suggestion is staying active socially and physically. Discovering new and even old hobbies would be a fabulous start! Get into cooking more, gardening, or sewing; take up photography or painting. Become more involved with family. Go to lunch with siblings, cousins, or children. Take grandkids out to the movies. Increase your involvement in your community or neighborhood: join or start a book club, volunteer as a dog walker for a local shelter; join a committee or run for a political position within your town!

Moreover, consider working part-time instead of retiring fully; or work part-time in a complete career change! Keeping at the “work life” routine may provide the crutch for not losing your identity. If you wish to not return to the traditional work style, consider turning a hobby into a side hustle or new business. This way you are staying active and can turn a passion into an extra stream of income.

Staying physically active is important, too, for mental health. If you are able, stroll your neighborhood and explore your local parks and trails. Get a gym membership or take fitness classes. Not only is the exercise good for your body, but it is also good for your mentality. If you cannot, consider a car ride through the park or a trip to the store. Getting fresh air and stepping out of your home is great!

Lastly, while all the above activities and recommendations may help, it is not a cure for the retirement blues—depression, anxiety, or loneliness. Do not be afraid to speak to your doctor or see a therapist. Evaluate what is important to you and what you want from your retirement years.

Finding what gives you purpose and ignites your soul is what will lead to a happy retirement!