Many of us envy those who no longer need to work. Being with our families and friends sounds much more appealing than waking up to an alarm at 6 in the morning. For many, retirement is a chance to rest and relax after long and grueling work life. Or is it?
Retirement is not always a fun or happy experience for everyone. Work provides a sense of purpose and not working causes us to reevaluate this purpose. Boredom and uncertainty as to how to spend one’s time can cause many to feel anxious and depressed. If this sounds familiar, read ahead for some insight into retirement-related depression, along with best practices on how to maximize your free time.
Retirement-Related Depression Causes
Many people have not been able to save the type of money required to fully enjoy their time in retirement. They may fully depend on social security and not have good retirement plans. This limits the capacity of how one can spend their time, which leads to boredom and depression.
Other people focused primarily on work their entire lives and perhaps neglected certain relationships in their personal lives. Once forced to confront these relationship problems without the distraction of work, some become anxious. They may realize they are unhappy in their marriage or have strained relationships with their kids.
Other retirees aren’t sure what their purposes are once they leave the workforce. Their primary identity was centered around their job title, and without it, they feel lost. They may feel restless, directionless, and depressed.
Finally, some retirees grapple with the realities of aging and entering a new stage of their lives. They may feel an age-induced crisis of sorts in which they are too young to be idle but too old to work. This also leads to feelings of worthlessness, depression, and anxiety.
Regardless of the cause of retirement-induced depression, the feelings associated with it are entirely valid. Change is hard for everyone; we are creatures of habit. However, adapting to a new schedule and way of life is entirely possible.
It can also be fun and meaningful if we take the right approach.
Tips to Mitigate Retirement-Related Depression
Here are some top tips to make the most out of your retirement.
· Seek Help – Depression is a serious illness that requires medical attention. There are doctors/therapists who can treat depression. Nowadays, there are retirement coaches who can help individuals achieve goals at an older age.
· Find a Purpose – The most critical thing a retiree can do is find purpose. Volunteering, church groups, part-time work, taking college courses, or learning a new trade are all options. Find something that you always wanted to do but never had time to do when you were working.
· Develop a New Routine and Remain Social – Isolation is a huge contributing factor to depression. Develop a new routine and plan outings with friends and family. Join a book club, visit the library, take a class, or learn a new skill. Or, go on a mini trip once a month with loved ones. There are plenty of ways to incorporate fun and learning with all of your new time.
· Travel – Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. You can plan mini road trips, short getaways, or other inexpensive adventures. Or, if you can afford it, begin planning a more extravagant vacation such as a cruise or overseas trip.
· Give Yourself Time to Adjust – Change is very difficult and nobody adjusts perfectly right away. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable or unsettled at first. After a while, your free time will feel normal to you. It’s ok for things to not feel ok at first.
· Find a Part-Time Job – Yes, you just retired from your full-time job but that doesn’t mean you can’t work part-time. Get a job at the local grocery, become a substitute teacher, or start a small business from home. There are plenty of fun, easy jobs that will provide a sense of purpose and are relatively laid back.
· Relaxation is Not Required – You may not be the type of person who wants to relax. That’s completely o.k. Some people like to be idle and rest in their retirement, while others want to stay busy. Find what works for you and don’t worry about what you’re “supposed to be doing.”
· Keep Physically Active – The benefits of exercise for mental and physical health cannot be overstated. Join a gym, take up a yoga class, or go walking with a friend every morning. Exercise is also a good thing to add to your routine.
· Get a New Pet – Pets are great companions, particularly if there is nobody living with you. They also provide a sense of purpose and help you maintain a routine.
Do you struggle with anxiety and depression after retiring? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.