Most people look forward to their retirement; in the months and years leading up to signing retirement papers, their dreams are filled with thoughts of travel, leisure activities, lunch with friends, time with family and the ability to pursue new hobbies. But the reality of retirement for many people falls short of their dreams. Whether due to financial restrictions, or the lack of routine, or other unforeseen circumstances, figuring out what to do in retirement isn’t always as easy as it seems.
But a big part of healthy aging involves finding ways to remain active in retirement and connecting to a deep sense of purpose. Work, which we spend the majority of our lives doing, allows us to remain active and feel a sense of daily purpose, so when that is no longer part of our routine, depression and isolation can easily take over.
An article in U.S. News and World Report, “Can Retirement Be A Depression Risk?,” found that while a correlation seems to exist between depression and retirement, there is a lack of empirical data to draw a definitive conclusion. The article quotes Dr. Susan W. Lehmann, clinical director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who explains that some new retirees “enjoy the structure, the camaraderie, being part of team. Work is a source of validation that is very satisfying. For those people, there is sense of loss.”
So, how do you reclaim your sense of purpose in retirement? We have some ideas for you to consider:
What To Do In Retirement
If you’re looking for a list of what to do in retirement that will also give you a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment, look no further. We have compiled some retirement ideas that can help you to successfully redefine who you are without an occupation.
Become A Mentor
Although you may have retired, your knowledge and experience is still incredibly valuable, especially to those who have less of it. Connect with someone younger and less experienced than yourself in the same field you worked in pre-retirement and help to coach them through their ups and downs. For those who have defined themselves by what they do throughout their career, helping others is a great way to remain connected to that part of yourself as you move into another phase of life. Giving yourself a chance to get used to the transition is a part of healthy aging.
One of the best retirement ideas to help you rediscover your sense of purpose is volunteer work. There are many proven benefits of volunteering, including lower rates of depression, longer life span and better overall health. Volunteer work could also help you become more clear about what to do in retirement, as you might become really attached to a cause and dedicate yourself to helping further their mission in a variety of ways.
More than just testing out new hobbies, finding ways to create something--whether through art work, wood work, music or food--can have a positive impact on your mind, body and spirit. Try taking an art class, or a cooking class and see if you feel inspired. It might even become a successful second career!
Start Walking or Hiking
Staying active is a big component to healthy aging. Even if you already have a regular exercise routine, making a commitment to taking long walks through your neighborhood, or hiking through the woods can have a big impact on your psyche. Nature walks have been proven to boost your mental health, providing you with more clarity and increased emotional well-being.
Seek Help When You Need It
Major life changes can have a big effect on your mental well-being. But a big part of healthy aging is knowing when to seek out help should you need it. Navigating what to do in retirement can be a rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows. Should you feel as though you simply cannot shake your lows, talk to someone about it. According to Mental Health America, of the 34 million Americans who are over the age of 65, more than 2 million have experienced depression.
While depression alone might not be reason enough for you to invest in a Medical Guardian medical alert system, should you purchase one, you would be able to use your emergency button to talk to a friendly voice on the other end of the line. We are here to help, whether it’s an emergency or not.