Retirement should be a time when stress disappears, or at least significantly reduces. After all, you’re throwing off pressing work commitments, while the activities you really enjoy and want to pursue find their way into your calendar. At the same time, your personal time increases enormouslyleaving you free to do almost anything you want to do, including those dreams you’ve put off for years after your career.
So why do you feel so stressed?
Believe it or not, retirement can present a number of stressors for people. From financial pressure to feel unwell without the career that fueled your self-esteem and purpose is all too common for recently retired retirees to feel heightened anxiety and pressure.
Fortunately, the context that causes your stress also gives you unique tools for reducing it. Here are 15 ways you can manage and reduce your stress levels in retirement.
1. Tackle the source of your stress
One of the simplest (but not necessarily one of the easiest) ways to deal with stress is to deal with it directly. If you can get some clarity on what exactly is fueling your stress, you can reduce it by being proactive about managing it.
To deal with financial stress, for example, you get a clear picture of your income and expenses. Create a workable budget based on your retirement income. Then look for ways to increase that income and stretch your pension money more efficient. Consider other investment mechanisms to grow your wealth.
Being proactive and tackling the source of your stress is a great way to remind yourself of your competence and manage your anxiety.
2. Get started with something you like
It may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: staying active is one of the best ways to deal with stress and feel better both physically and mentally during the retirement years.
Keep yourself both mentally and physically active by finding some type of hobby, artistic pursuit, or activity you enjoy and by making regular time to fulfill your interests. Then stick with it, whatever it may be:
- Teaching kids to do something you’re good at like working on cars, carpentry, gardening, etc.
If you don’t have a hobby or interest that currently interests you, spend your time looking for a hobby through organized events. A great way to discover new hobbies is to participate in the adult education opportunities of your local community school or other groups.
3. Start a new business
Retiring is a great time to put the hard-won experience and knowledge gained throughout your career a new venture to make money† It can reduce your financial anxiety about retirement while also giving you a goal to work towards and a newfound sense of purpose. This, in turn, can help reduce stress and prevent depression from settling on.
Barriers to entry for businesses have never been lower, especially for digital or online businesses. You can start with an affordable idea, a solid business plan and some initial business financing†
Or consider making your professional reputation work for you by offering freelance consulting services in your industry. A simple one-page website, some focused attention on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and strategic contact with your professional contacts can be all you need to start a successful consulting firm.
4. Spend time with people you love
Make a concerted effort to spend more quality time with your friends and family. They help keep you company, which helps prevent loneliness and depression, while at the same time making your retirement more enjoyable.
If you can’t come in person, don’t give up! Modern web-based technologies make it easy for us to stay in touch with loved ones wherever they are. Set a recurring date for a short video chat or phone call. Email and social media can help you maintain a more consistent line of communication with a low stakes, so as not to cause fear or pressure.
5. Stay active
In addition to pursuing your interests and hobbies, it’s a good idea to stay physically active on a regular basis. Daily exercise and participation in physical activities helps boost your energy and mood, which in turn helps you manage and reduce stress.
How much exercise do you need? The National Institute on Aging recommends that adults engage in some type of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes per week. A brisk walk around the neighborhood, half an hour of swimming and exercise in a pool, or an impromptu dance party in the living room are all enough. Whatever activity you choose, mix it up and try to get active at least three days a week.
6. Join other like-minded people
Find some type of group or club that engages in activities related to your interests and attend regular meetings or gatherings. There are many groups that target retirees who want to stay active and socialize. Whether the group is centered around political causes, charitable causes, or hobbies, you can benefit greatly from getting to know and spending time with people who share your interests.
7. Travel and Explore
How many times during your work have you said to yourself, “One day, if I have time, I will travel”? For that reason, many people look forward to their retirement years.
Now that you have the time and space, why not plan to travel more? There is so much to see in the world! Take trips and discover new places. You don’t necessarily have to plan a two-week European Grand Tour right away, especially if traveling feels a little intimidating right now. Start small with sights in your town or city. Look at historic sites, medium-sized cities with cultural offerings, and other more localized areas of interest.
8. Get Organized
Studies show that organizational skills can help reduce stress. Many people find that the simple act of planning how you will spend your time is a calming exercise that helps them feel more in control.
For example, if you plan to write the Great American Novel during your retirement, why not set aside an hour or so each day to write? Scheduling time to work toward your goals is the best way to make steady progress, which in turn helps minimize your stress and anxiety around that goal.
9. Reach Out
It can be intimidating to even consider asking someone for help. You can understandably feel vulnerable and exposed. Yet we all need someone to talk to, someone who listens and offers a new perspective when we are stressed.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Many people are more than happy to lend a hand. But even your best friends can’t read your mind. In addition, many are reluctant to cross or exceed a perceived boundary.
10. Cultivate and Maintain Optimism
Stay positive, even when the going gets tough. While there is such a thing as “toxic positivity,” and it’s definitely something to avoid, a healthier sense of optimism helps you manage stress more effectively. according to research† Maintaining a positive frame of mind can help you manage your stress and find solutions more easily to the problems that wear you down.
11. Adopt a furry friend
The simple act of petting a dog can immediately reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being by lowering your blood pressure and increasing oxytocin production, providing a strong sense of well-being and peace.
And if you want to stay active, manage your stress and feel better every day, take a short trip to your local shelter and adopt a pet. Regularly caring for and interacting with pets is a proven way to reduce stress and promote positive emotions.
12. Volunteer with your time
Sign up to give of yourself, through your time and efforts, for a cause you care about. Donating money is all well and good, and you absolutely should do it whenever you can, as far as your budget allows. Giving your time and energy is different, though, and it helps create a more intimate, purposeful connection between you and like-minded others. It’s a great way to stay connected with your community and make new friends.
13. Spend time in nature
As a species, we are usually happier if we can regularly spend some time in nature. You don’t have to turn yourself into a dedicated mountain hiker or seasoned sailor. Even a few minutes of walking in your neighborhood can have significant benefits for your physical and mental health. It reduces stress and increases your sense of well-being.
Or choose a more challenging outing and work to prepare and train. If you’re concerned about your mobility or safety, work with a guide or instructor who is experienced in the terrain you want to explore and who can help keep you safe as you explore.
14. Make time for yourself every day
Even extroverted people need some “me-time” on a daily basis. Even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes, by making regular time for yourself, you can prioritize your well-being. Whether you meditate, rest, listen to music, journal, practice yoga, or do any other exercise, a daily habit of devoting a few minutes to yourself will cultivate the habit of relaxation and rejuvenation.
In return, you will reinforce that commitment to self-care, which will also help facilitate other healthy practices. You end up with a greater sense of calm and equanimity. In addition, you will find yourself actively dealing with your stress throughout the day. After all, the things you focus on and prioritize are the things that change for the better.
15. Practice Mindfulness
One way to spend your daily “me-time” that will yield outrageous benefits is mindfulness meditation.
Stress makes the mind jump from one stressful event or idea to another, sometimes in a seemingly endless, rapid cycle. The result is a stressed body, with higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, increased muscle tone and pain, and increased production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Mindfulness meditation helps you calm the mind and body, focus on what’s ahead, and reduce your stress levels.
it comes down to
Whatever specific strategies you choose to implement, it’s important to control your attitude and mood if you want to manage your stress† Look for the good and try to spend some time every day on the feeling of gratitude.
At the same time, expect to experience a wide range of emotions. Remind yourself that emotions are always temporary. If you’re having trouble with that, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and consider talk therapy. It can be very effective in helping you develop new, healthier coping skills to reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of retired life.