5 Ways to Combat the Unexpected Stress of Retirement | Keck Medicine of USC

5 Ways to Combat the Unexpected Stress of Retirement

It’s a surprising fact — retirement can be stressful. Learn how you can avoid and eliminate common stressors from your golden years.

Most people spend the majority of their career fantasizing about the day they are officially off the clock. Retirement should be fun — and you probably envision exotic trips, new hobbies, more time with friends and family, grocery shopping on off-hours or simply getting more sleep. Retirement is a big life change, ranking in the Top 10 on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. Here are five ways to combat the unexpected stress of retirement.

1. Avoid sudden loss of identity

If your identity is built around your job and career and you retire, suddenly a very important part of your life no longer exists. This traumatic change can be a blow to your self-esteem and cause you to question your place in the world.

Consider easing into retirement, reducing your hours, going part-time or taking a different position with fewer demands and less stress. These options give you time to adjust to a less-demanding routine as you determine your post-retirement life goals.

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2. Devise a financial stability plan in advance

How are you going to support yourself? Financial stability is a major concern during all stages of life, but as we age, it takes on new importance. Have you saved enough? Can you live comfortably throughout retirement? Can you cover unexpected health expenses?

You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. Find a financial planner to advise you on your retirement expectations and needs, help you budget and plan for unexpected expenses. Simply having a plan in place can reduce your stress.

3. Take steps to maintain good health

As we age, good health isn’t guaranteed, but you can fight the effects of time by staying active. Regular exercise, even light stretching or yoga, helps you stay flexible and mobile. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week — that’s less than 30 minutes per day. Your body changes over time and as you age, you lose muscle mass and burn fewer calories. Counter these naturally-occurring changes by maintaining your weight and staying active.

4. Prepare a plan to maximize your free time

For the first time in your life, you can do what you want, when you want. That may work for some, but many find that without a daily routine, they become isolated. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression.

However, a study among older adults found that positive social connections decreases depression. Be social. Pick up old hobbies or find new ones. Join an organization where you can connect and make new friends.

5. Stop boredom before it happens

Don’t let boredom get the best of you. Even though you are retired you have skills and knowledge that can benefit those around you. Share your knowledge or learn something new to combat boredom. Spend a few days a month volunteering for your favorite charity. Consider a part-time job — the extra income can be helpful and a hard day’s work can be invaluable to your self-esteem.

Retirement is a time to reap and enjoy the rewards of your professional life. Plan ahead of time to keep unnecessary stress away during retirement.

by Heidi Tyline King

If your stress is getting to a level you are unable to handle and nothing else is working, reach out to your primary care physician for help. If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit https://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.