Retirement is a wonderful stage of life, but it can also come with its challenges. For many seniors, retirement can exacerbate previous mental health struggles, or even lead to problems you haven’t experienced before. We will explore the reasons for this in this article. We will also review some easy mental health tips for retirees, so you can continue to live your best life well into your golden years!
Why Is Retirement a Mental Health Challenge for Many Seniors?
Retirement can be challenging to your mental health for many reasons. Here are a few common challenges that come with retirement:
- Loss of purpose and identity. While work is a necessary evil for most of us, it does provide us with a direct purpose and identity. You have concrete goals you must achieve, and you have a work identity that can give you direction and stability. When you lose this sense of identity and purpose, it can cause you to feel a little bit lost or directionless.
- Reduced social connections. For many people, coworkers become friends and family. If you worked 40 hours a week, you may actually have spent more time with your coworkers than with your spouse, children, or other loved ones! Losing all that social connection can be a substantial loss. This can be even more pronounced because you may no longer have children at home at the same time as you are no longer seeing your coworkers on a regular basis. You might feel lonelier than you have in a long time.
- Uncertainty. What are you going to do with your time? Will you have enough money to maintain your lifestyle? How will your relationship with your family and/or significant other change? Retirement brings with it a lot of uncertainty.
- Boredom. Few jobs aren’t boring at one time or another, but they usually provide mental stimulation and challenges as well. Solving challenges, completing tasks, resolving problems, and/or creating things is helpful for your brain. Losing this mental stimulation might make you feel restless and bored.
Easy Mental Health Tips for Retirees
Thankfully, just because you’ve retired doesn’t mean your mental health needs to suffer. With these easy mental health tips, you’ll be able to truly enjoy your free time and golden years.
Find Hobbies and Interests
To combat any potential boredom and restlessness, find new hobbies or rediscover old ones! Creative outlets can give you mental stimulation and challenges that feel exciting and productive. Hobbies and creative pursuits are also good for your brain. People who are involved in creative activities and hobbies are at a lower risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline (1). Here are a few ideas of activities to try that are not only fun, but great for brain health.
- Crossword puzzles
- Education classes
- Playing games, cards, or chess
- Listening to music
- Knitting or crochet
- Swim, water aerobics, or dance classes
Check out this post for many more great options for hobbies and interests.
Maintain Physical Fitness
Your physical and mental health are inexorably connected. If you are in poor physical health, chances are your mental health will suffer as well. Many seniors suffer from chronic health conditions, which may be beyond your ability to control. However, there is a lot you can do to improve and maintain your physical health.
- Get outside as often as you can. Exposure to nature and the outdoors has many health benefits, from vitamin D that will improve your immune system and bone health, to better sleep and improved cardiovascular health.
- Move your body joyfully most days of the week. You don’t have to do punishing workouts or force yourself to lift heavy weights to get the benefits of regular exercise. Walking, swimming, biking, dance classes, at-home workouts, and group fitness are just a few options for joyful daily movement. You can get benefits from as little as 7-15 minutes of exercise a day.
- Eat whole, nutritious foods. For the vast majority of people, dieting doesn’t work, so you don’t need to waste your retirement years starving yourself. However, the quality and balance of the foods you eat does matter. Check out this post for nutrition tips and delicious recipes!
- See your doctor regularly, and take any necessary medications. Modern medicine has come a long way to helping you live a long and happy life. If it’s necessary for you to take medications regularly, like medicines for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, diabetes, or any other conditions, make sure you take these on schedule.
See Other People
Social connections are really important. Isolation and loneliness are not just unpleasant, but downright dangerous, especially for older adults. Make sure you spend time in social situations regularly. If you don’t have a spouse or significant other, or family nearby, this is especially important. Here are a few easy ways to increase your social circle.
- Attend a church or religious group. This is a great option for many seniors to find like-minded friends.
- Join groups of people who share your hobbies or interests. The internet is a great place to find people who share your passion for knitting, golf, tennis, or whatever else you love. Get together regularly and spend time as a group.
- Consider senior living. Many seniors love living in senior living communities for the social aspect. With daily activities, classes, fitness options, group dining, excursions, and more, you’ll be able to make new friends who live right next door!
Create a Routine
Creating a routine is one of the easiest ways to ensure you stay at your best. Schedule your fitness, social engagements, and hobby times, and you’ll have these defenses against mental illness built into your daily life. Having a plan for when you will exercise, get together with friends, and work on your hobbies and interests makes it much easier to make things happen on a regular basis. For example, try a weekly knitting group, a morning workout, and an evening reading time. You’ll find your days are full of enjoyable activities you can look forward to!
Ultimately, while retirement can pose mental health challenges, it can also be an opportunity for personal growth, relaxation, and pursuing new interests and passions. Stellar Living hopes these easy mental health tips for retirees will help you make the most of your retirement years!