Combatting the Blues in Retirement

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!


Finding Happiness in Retirement

Ever heard “home is where the heart is?” During retirement, finding and keeping what makes your heart smile is as important as your financial well-being. 

Foremost, maintaining relationship during your retirement is most important. This could be keeping in touch with family or old friends. Or joining a club and creating new friendships. If you are married or live with another, your home life relationships will be what matters most to you. Now, maintaining these relationships will take time and effort, but keeping your loved ones close will make you much happier down the road. 

Outside of maintaining your social circle, activities will help, too! Invest in your hobbies that lead to your desired social interactions. Hiking, crafting, bingo club, or a book club. In retirement the number one reported activity is watching television. While relaxation is important, so is getting out of the house! Social activities not only keep you moving but keep your mind acute. 

Studies have found that financial health is correlated to retirement happiness. Having funds secured and your retirement planned out means you can maintain your lifestyle as desired. Living comfortably is what makes retirees the happiest. 

Moreover, trends show that within the first year of retirement spending mirrors that of the last working year. The only difference is a different amount of income is reported. Without having to pay certain taxes, more money is essentially available the first year of retirement. 

Another trend found is inflation-adjusted spending decreases as retirement continues. Sadly, this is partly due to the fear of running out of funds. Another reason is retirees become comfortable leading a newer lifestyle that may call for less spending and expenses. In a 2019 survey, 84% of participants reported being uncomfortable spending their nest egg especially when they did not have a guaranteed pension. 

When spending time with children, retirees are reportedly happier. The youth keep them active and engaged. If retirees have grandkids doing weekly activities and keeping in touch by phone also produce happiness. 

Housing is a key factor when it comes to happiness during retirement. Some relocate, downsize, or move into a retirement facility. Homeowners are oftentimes happier than those who rent late in life. On the contrary, moving into a retirement or assisted-living facility has been found to make over 50% of retirees happier and their lives easier—especially those dealing with a long-term care event individually or with a spouse. 

When it comes to your retirement, find what makes your heart smile. Be social and stay in touch with family. Invest in yourself. Prepare for and secure your retirement so you can enjoy those golden years.