Are you a recent retiree who doesn’t know what to do with all your newfound free time? Don’t worry – that’s a completely normal reaction. Many people feel surprisingly negative in the weeks or even months immediately following their retirement, especially if they haven’t thought ahead about what exactly they would do to fill up their obligation-free days.
It’s important to go into retirement with the right mindset. Look at it as an opportunity rather than a potentially permanent lull in productivity. Many active retirees go on to do wonderful, inspiring things in retirement. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.
Many people find satisfaction and fulfillment by participating in altruistic activities, such as working with charitable organizations, donating their time to local schools or getting more involved with their communities.
Are you familiar with the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve done something nice or helpful for someone else? That’s not an accident of the human condition. Those sensations are wired into our brains. It’s in a human’s best interest to be in a community for all sorts of psychological, physiological, health and safety reasons, which is why your brain has subconscious reward mechanisms for performing actions that promote community and build good will.
Studies show that volunteering your time can stimulate dopamine-releasing regions of the brain and reduce symptoms and feelings of depression and promote a sense of wellbeing. Helping others regulate their emotions or deal with tough times has been shown to have similar effects on wellbeing and emotion regulation.
A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found longevity benefits for donating your time and helping other people. The psychologists monitored 846 adults and found that people who lent a helping hand to others enjoyed reduced stress levels. The ultimate benefit, according to the study’s authors, was the reduced mortality rate that correlated with the reduced stress.
There are many retirement activities that can have similar benefits. Travel, for example, has several emotional and psychological benefits for people of all ages. One study of 485 adults in the United States found a link between foreign travel and being able to effectively direct attention and energy towards a goal, which can be a valuable trait for active retirees. Exposure to other cultures also helps improve tolerance and confidence, especially when dealing with ambiguous situations.
Retirement doesn’t have to be the end of the productive part of your life, or even the end of your money-making years.
Many retirees quit working at the top of their game. They still possess loads of highly valuable knowledge that can benefit companies in the industries in which they worked.
If you work in such an industry and have a deep, broad knowledge base, consider going into freelancing and consulting. You certainly wouldn’t be the first retiree to do it. You get to make your own schedule and continue earning some money to fund other things you want to do – like travel.
Being bored and aimless isn’t just depressing, it can also be detrimental for your health. Learning something new or participating in activities that keep the mind active and agile can help stave off or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and memory loss. Staying physically active can also help promote good heart health and help you maintain your independence in retirement.
Many retirees choose to enroll in courses at community colleges, take vocational classes, learn to play a new instrument or speak a new language or pick up a hobby. There are also all kinds of book clubs, discussion groups or other communal activities available at Ovation by Avamere.
Ovation by Avamere is committed to staying true to our roots as an active-lifestyle retirement community. We are proud to offer a home base for people who want to travel the world as well as retirees who are looking to spend their days enjoying resort-like amenities, great restaurants and a welcoming, vibrant community.
Schedule a visit to Ovation Sienna Hills in St. George, Utah by calling 435.429.0000 or Ovation Heartwood Preserve in Omaha, Nebraska by calling 402.999.7900 and find out how active retirement can be as relaxing or exciting as you want it to be.