7 Ways to Reduce Stress in Retirement
You’d think you’d have less stress in retirement, only to realize there are lots of triggers and contributors that cause many people stress and anxiety in retirement.
From health concerns and financial worries to a feeling of isolation, diminished sense of purpose, inactivity and boredom, and much more, retirement can be a bummer for some people…even far worse.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take steps to chase at least some of your stress away.
You worked for many years, probably decades, envisioning a day when you wouldn’t have to work anymore. A time when you could sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, doing things you like and enjoying a stress-free lifestyle.
Then you retire and after a honeymoon period (often very brief) you settle into your routine and start to realize that living a stress-free lifestyle isn’t a “gimme” that happens automatically.
In fact, it can be elusive and dang hard to achieve. It can actually seem more stressful than your pre-retirement life.
Truth is that just as with every other aspect of life, you tend to get out what you put in to begin with. You will have to work at having the retirement you envisioned if you want any chance of actually making it happen.
This will involve proactively doing things that alleviate boredom, enable you to feel purpose in life, help you feel good about who you are, give you things to look forward to, and for many, reduce stress.
Today we examine proactive measures you can take to alleviate issues that might be stressing you in retirement.
Identify what’s stressing you
The old maxim about addressing your fears to overcome them is true. In fact, this is true across many things in life.
When it comes to stress, many things that cause us anxiety and feeling uneasy actually manifest themselves through fears. Worries about finances, about the future, anxious about health or the well-being of loved ones, etc.
When things worry you and cause you stress, while it may not be pleasant and your instinct may be to turn the other way and run, you will be much better off to turn and face them – take them on directly.
The best way to do so is to identify the root cause. What is it that is causing you to feel stress?
By identifying the stressor(s) in your life on any given day or during any given period, you take step one in dealing with the stress. You can now begin to take conscious steps to deal with the stress, versus remaining a victim to something you haven’t quite identified.
Worried you aren’t saving enough? Then you should analyze the situation by looking at your budget and determining how you might be able to eliminate some wasteful items and put that money toward your retirement.
What if you are already stretched thin and worried how you will cover your bills and put food on the table right now?
Again, in identifying that this is what is causing a major part of your stress, now you know that by doing something simple, like taking on a part time job and bringing in just a bit more income (say $500 to $1,000 per month), you can feel more at ease about having additional funds now, and also saving more for your future.
When you are stressed, focus on the root cause. Once you pull back the layers of the onion, you can start to identify simple solutions and alleviate much of your stress.
Do things you enjoy
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop…
Who hasn’t heard that at some point?
Whatever your belief system, this represents a cautionary note that if we don’t stay busy doing something we can get caught up in bad mindsets. Boredom, melancholy, regret, fear, anxiety, what-if thinking, and many other types of negative thoughts that only serve to impede our productivity in everyday life and overall ability to be happy.
Be it hobbies (existing or new), volunteering for causes you support, seeking out new activities or experiences, meeting up with the gals or guys for a weekly game (golf, tennis, pickleball, cards, etc.) or engaging in any other activities (especially if they get you out of the house and around others) can be a great source of enjoyment and can help alleviate stress.
This is a no-brainer when it comes to alleviating stress. Luxuriating on a beach or hitting the slopes somewhere here or abroad, or taking off cross-country doing an RV vacation with no schedule or set agenda, can all be fun.
Just the planning and anticipation leading up to the actual trip can make you feel good.
Then there’s the actual experience itself, be it unwinding, thrill seeking or anything in between. Whether fully planned out, or unscripted, this is your chance to do your thing and simply take pleasure in each moment.
Travel can be a powerful elixir when it comes to inner healing and kicking stress out the door – stepping out of your routines and putting aside those things that worry you on a regular basis.
Without doubt, a change of scenery can provide a change of mindset and perspective, if only for a while. And that’s okay.
Start a new biz
While many people view retirement as the time in life when you get away from work, others view it as a time when they can write their own rules and be the boss, starting their own business.
Leveraging the skills and wisdom gained over your lifetime, starting a biz can provide you with a renewed sense of purpose, especially as you work toward small goals daily and larger goals as you grow your company.
Moreover, even if your gains are modest, every little bit can relieve financial fears you might have in retirement, worried about living on a fixed income.
Fortunately, in today’s day and age, you can launch a startup business with very little capital from the comfort of your home, which can provide self-employed tax benefits as well.
However you go about doing so, reducing your financial worries, gaining renewed purpose in life and obtaining the satisfaction of achieving goals (no matter how small or large) can all help to seriously reduce stress in your life.
Spend time with those whose company you enjoy
Due to time constraints, proximity and myriad additional considerations, during your working years you are often forced to hang out with set people – family members, neighbors and workmates.
While that can be good in some instances, in others…not so much.
When you retire, you can take advantage of your freedom to hang with people whose company you prefer. You know, people you’ve met and established relationships with over the years based on mutual respect, shared interests, personalities that just seem to mesh, and more.
The good news is you can do it anytime you want. You don’t even have to meet up in person, given that today’s technology enables you do to so virtually at any time of day and even if you‘re located on opposite ends of the globe.
Just as with hanging with friends and others whose company you enjoy, you can seek out groups of people who are like minded or have shared hobbies or passions that align with you.
Doesn’t matter what the shared interest is, joining such groups exposes you to new relationships with people you probably didn’t already know, which widens your social network.
Additionally, opening yourself up to different things (experimenting) can be fulfilling in itself. Doing the same ol’ thing all the time can’t help but get boring.
Now that you have time on your hands, venturing out to do new things – may even a little outside your comfort zone (you don’t have to try skydiving for the first time – maybe a dance class) – can bring you a whole new sort of joy or fun.
Not only will new things get you out and about, but they will help take your mind off of stressful matters.
Take classes or finish a degree or certificate
No doubt that many people will view going back to school in retirement even less favorably than going back to work. WTH!
Don’t worry, we get that.
But for others there may be no better suggestion for relieving stress and injecting newfound passion into their life.
Whether you never went to school or quite finished your degree, or you thought about getting a certificate or degree in another area than your profession, or even wanted to step it up and obtain a master’s or a doctorate, going back to school in retirement can be very fulfilling.
And now you have time that you didn’t all those years surviving in the rate race.
Lifelong learning is a joy and a gift for many people, challenging them to grow and expand their horizons. Doing so in retirement can lead them to another professional field, or just kept them active and mindfully engaged, which is good for their mind and overall well-being.
While the aforementioned are easy enough to do, they are a bit “bigger picture” and take some time and ongoing effort.
The following ideas are things you can build into your everyday routine that can help reduce stress and bring some happiness to each day:
Create a schedule
A schedule helps bring structure to your day, keeps you on tract and accountable (to yourself) and vastly increases the likelihood you get things accomplished.
Remember, we’re not talking about the “honey do” list of chores for the day…this is the schedule of things you want and need to do for yourself.
It can build anticipation into each day when you look forward to specific items in your schedule, such as hitting tennis balls, taking a walk, playing a game of chess online with a friend, reading, and much more.
In line with building a schedule is engaging in some “me time” each day.
During this time you do exactly what you want to do for yourself. Read a book for a half hour, do some yoga or a workout, meditate, pray, sit in the backyard or take a walk at the park.
This is your time where you don’t let others (including a spouse) interrupt your thoughts and peace of mind. Don’t be afraid that this is being selfish…we all need it.
Sounds simplistic, but being positive often leads to happiness at any given time, which is a good thing. Problem is it’s not always easy to be happy.
In fact, we often have to work at it – actually seek out moments or things that can bring us a minute or even hours of happiness in the midst of our daily lives.
This can be tough, given there are days when we are afraid to open our mail, answer the door or a phone call, turn on the TV and listen to all the bad news going on, and more.
Lots of people young and old alike wonder how they can obtain happiness in their lives. One sure way is to be positive and to seek out little things – to seek out happiness in the people and things that surround us.
Taking a walk and noticing the amazing greenery and foliage that surround, hearing the sound of childrens’ innocent laughter, watching fish in a pond, waves crashing…you name it. They are all simply things we often overlook, yet they can provide tremendous peace of mind and help alleviate stress.
The harsh truth about life is that IT IS filled with stressful situations and periods. These can be hard to deal with and often lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Fortunately there are steps you can take to mitigate or limit the amount of stress, even unhappiness, in your life.
Fact is that if you take simple steps, you have an increased likelihood of becoming more positive, which can lead to more happiness. Being positive and a bit happier each day tends to chase negativity and stress out the door.
Bottom line, you have the ability each day to reduce your stress, be positive and seek out (and find) happiness – you just have to make a plan to make it happen, and put in the effort.
Speaking of which, another way to decrease stress and anxiety when it comes to your finances when you retire is to have a solid retirement plan in place.
At Oak Harvest we can assist you with a retirement plan capable of helping you minimize and lessen your stress in retirement. We can build a holistic, comprehensive retirement plan addressing relevant issues, utilizing strategies that cover taxes, income, spending, healthcare, legacy, and more, customized to your family’s specific needs.
A plan created with the goal of ensuring you have the most stress-free opportunity of living out the retirement you and your spouse envision.
Let Us Help You Achieve the Retirement You Deserve!
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