Adjusting to Life After RetirementFebruary 28, 2023
There is a great deal of build-up to one’s retirement. For literal decades, you daydream about what you’ll do with all the freedom that retirement affords you. When the day finally comes, you’re likely greeted by a party where your coworkers celebrate all your accomplishments and send you off. It’s emotional, but it’s exciting.
Adjusting to life after retirement is never as easy as it seems. Instead of being relaxed by their lack of work, many older adults are stressed by the open days. They may even experience depression and anxiety. But why is that the case? And how does one adjust to their new life?
Why do some people struggle with retirement?
For the first few weeks, many older adults are thrilled to have put their work life behind them. Gone is the commute and difficult coworkers, and here is a life of relaxation. After some time goes by, however, those rose-tinted glasses come off. Many retirees start to feel aimless and even isolated at home.
For most individuals, this is due to the sudden removal of their normalcy. Removing what gave you 40 hours of stability every week is a major life change. You might find you can’t “switch off” work mode and relax. It could be difficult to find tasks to fill your day. You might be financially prepared, but you’re not emotionally prepared.
This all lines up with the five emotional stages of retirement.
- #1: Pre-Retirement. At this point, you’re most excited about what is to come and making sure you have everything in place to allow you to retire.
- #2: Honeymoon. Upon retiring, you might feel suspended in a state of endless vacation. You may travel or rest like you haven’t been able to before. This stage can last for a few weeks and up to a year.
- #3: Disenchantment. After some time, many realize it isn’t quite what they thought it would be. You may feel restless and unfulfilled. This stage is the most difficult to get over, but it leads to the next one.
- #4: Reorientation. This is when you finally establish what is most important to you in your life. During this process, you may connect with others, try new hobbies, start volunteering, or do other activities.
- #5: Stability. At this point, you have finally developed your new normal. You’ve determined a routine full of things and people that are meaningful to you and start to feel fulfilled.
How to adjust to life after retirement
Of course, one’s retirement journey isn’t necessarily as cut and dry as those five steps. Each person has a different experience adjusting to life after retirement. However, there are certain steps you can take to make that transition a little easier and start actually enjoying your retired life.
Acknowledge your emotions
One of the worst possible things you can do for your mental well-being is beating yourself up for feeling the “wrong way.” Many older adults have a poor relationship with their mental health due to generational stigma. Instead of pushing your feelings down, it is important you allow yourself to acknowledge and embrace your feelings. That is the best way to move past them.
If you’re struggling to manage your negative feelings on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out. Your friends and family should be open to speaking about your problems. If you feel uncomfortable talking to them, consider reaching out to a professional. They will be able to help you cope with your feelings.
Add structure to your days
When you worked, it is likely you followed the same schedule five days a week. You had your morning routine, you went to work, and you may have even had a rough schedule to structure your evening. Having that taken away can be disorienting and can even impact your mood.
Re-establishing some structure in your daily life might help you improve your mood. You are retired, after all, so it doesn’t need to be a terribly strict schedule, but having a daily routine may help you feel a little more normal. A few things to try are waking up around the same time every day, reading for a certain window, and exercising on a set schedule.
Create new goals
Instead of having to meet work deadlines and complete work projects, why not create new, fun goals? Developing new hobbies and interests is fantastic for your overall cognitive health, as it gives you something to learn and strive for. Make a list of certain activities you would like to try, and pick a few to fill your day with for a renewed sense of purpose.
The best part about this is that it is entirely self-motivated. You can determine how large, or how simple, you would like your goals to be. Whether you want to practice photography once a week, write a book in six months, or travel to a new country, it is all up to you. The world is your oyster!
Give yourself flexibility
Chances are, you may pick one of these goals and decide they don’t scratch the itch that you thought they would. This can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening, but here’s the thing: you don’t have to stick with your goal. Adjusting to retirement takes time. The things you choose to do in your retirement are entirely for your enjoyment.
Give yourself flexibility to determine how you want to spend your time. Try activities—like music or volunteering—and if you don’t like it, move on to something else. Involve your friends and loved ones in these new pastimes. You might learn that certain things are more enjoyable when it’s with someone you care about.
Hire the help of an at-home caregiver
If you find you need assistance doing particular activities around the home, you’re not alone. Many senior citizens realize they need the help of an at-home caregiver for certain activities of daily living. They can help with personal care, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and so much more.
To learn more about how a caregiver might improve your quality of life in retirement, call us at (773) 274-9262. We would love to help.
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