Mental Health In Retirement: What You Can Do To Stay Healthy And Happy
Retirement can be exciting – coming to the end of your working career with a calendar now open for relaxation and enjoyment is a time many people look forward to.
But the prospect of retirement can also be daunting. Some new retirees worry that their days will have less purpose now that they’re not at work, that they’ll be bored, or that they’ll miss the social connection they had with their co-workers or clients. These concerns are just as legitimate as the excitement of winding up work.
Judith Maestracci is Vice Chairman and Queensland Director on the Board of Probus South Pacific Limited, an organisation with over 115,000 members across Australia and New Zealand, who belong to a network of clubs that meet on a regular basis. She said “As I have discovered, joining Probus can provide you with an opportunity to access new friends and ideas with people who enjoy the same things as you do.” She offered some pointers for avoiding loneliness and maintaining mental wellness during retirement and why it’s important to proactively look after yourself during this time.
1. Focus on your physical health: During retirement, you might find there is more time to improve taking care of your body. This is good news because your physical health and your mental wellbeing are connected. Exercise, a balanced diet, enough sleep and even drinking enough water can all affect our mood and energy levels.
Has it been a while since you tried a new sport or type of physical activity? How often do you attempt a new recipe? Just because you’re getting on in decades doesn’t mean you can’t try new things.
2. Explore what gives you purpose: Having purpose is really important for mental wellbeing. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning and makes your days feel meaningful. There are a lot of ways to feel you have purpose. Just because you’re not going to your day job any more does not mean you can’t have purpose in your life. You may feel like you have purpose when you’re engaging in ‘purposeful activities’. Purposeful activities help you feel like you’re contributing something to the world, whether that contribution is just for you, your family, friends, community or the broader population. What counts as a purposeful activity will be different for everyone.
Finding your purpose can be fun! If you’re not sure how to do this now that you’re not at work, try a variety of new activities and see how these experiences make you feel. If you’re a member of a social group like Probus, you’ll discover new ideas and activities within your Club to help inspire you to find a new purpose and enjoy life.
3. Connect with the outside world: Connection with others, including your family and friends, a Probus Club, with pets, or with nature, is a vital part of the human experience. Developing healthy relationships with others can decrease levels of anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem. When you retire from work, you might feel like you’ve lost a lot of connection all at once. Finding ways to connect with others beyond work can be an effective way to promote your mental wellbeing.
4. Consider your sense of safety: Feeling safe, stable and secure is important for your mental wellbeing. This can include feeling safe at home, in your neighbourhood, being financially secure and feeling supported within your close relationships and your community. When you feel safe, it is easier to relax and feel free to live your life as you want. Learn from others, talk to other retirees about what they’ve done to make their lives safe and secure.
5. Seek support: Mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression can affect anyone at any time. These issues are health conditions, like catching a cold, it is not a weakness or character flaw. The good news is they can be managed and treated by health professionals. If you’ve been feeling sad, worried, stressed, angry, numb or just ‘not yourself’ for two weeks or more, and need support managing your mental wellbeing, speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. Often just talking about how you’re feeling is the first step towards recovery.
For more information, please contact Probus South Pacific (Australia) 1300 630 488 or (New Zealand),0800 1477 6287.
Visit www.probussouthpacific.org to find your nearest Probus Club.