Everyone looks forward to a happy retirement – a new chapter of life where you spend your days doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.
But the reality is that many retirees don’t seem to be particularly happy in retirement, especially after the first couple of years of doing nothing apart from being idle.
If you need to shake things up a bit and make your post-career lifestyle more exciting, this list has tips that can help you with that.
Stay Focused on Your Health
One of the secrets of having a happy retirement is to prioritize your health.
We tend to grow fragile as we age, so being proactive about your health is essential if you want to enjoy your golden years.
Engaging in physical activities is great and we’ll get to that in a bit, but staying focused on your health and being upbeat about it goes beyond taking a long walk or joining a yoga class.
Think about how easy it is to access health facilities in the town where you plan to live in retirement. Do you have to travel over a long distance to get to the nearest hospital? Can you easily get in-person medical care in an emergency?
You also want to consider the quality of medical care available in the health facilities available. This is especially true if you have an existing condition that requires the attention of a specialist.
Keep in mind that it is a lot easier to maintain an overall positive outlook if you are in good health. On the other hand, you need to exert a ton of willpower to stay positive if you are in poor health.
Healthy Food Will Improve Your Mental State
Many people didn’t have a healthy eating pattern during their busy working life.
They often hurriedly ate whatever was available when they leave home in the morning and turn to snacks while at work.
If that’s you, retirement gives you all the time to eat more healthily. The benefit of preparing your meals or eating good foods goes beyond a healthy body to an improved mental state.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables in addition to salmon and other omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods has been shown to boost mental health. Sticking with a diet of healthy foods sets you up for significantly fewer mood fluctuations, increased focus, and an overall happier outlook.
The next time you are in a grocery store, consider buying fewer heavily processed and junk foods because they can increase the risk of dementia.
Instead, keep an eye out for the following foods that can help you remain healthy and happy in retirement:
Whole foods, such as legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits, and other non-processed or minimally processed foods.
Fiber, including beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Antioxidants found in black chia seeds, spice turmeric, salmon, and berries.
Folate, found in cantaloupes, leafy greens, and lentils.
Vitamin D, which you can get from mushrooms in addition to exposure to sunlight.
Magnesium, including almonds, beans, cashew, bananas, spinach, and other dark leafy greens.
Fermented foods, such as, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These are rich in probiotics and help maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any existing conditions before starting a new diet. This will prevent any possible negative side effects.
Plan for Retirement
Long before you retire, it is important to have a realistic plan that will support you when you stop working.
While saving tons of money in your retirement account is a good start, it is also important to start making the mental adjustment necessary to be happy in your next phase of life.
Here are few tips to help you adjust to the lifestyle of a retiree:
Reduce your spending: Gradually but steadily reduce your spending habits in the years leading up to retirement.
Organize your money: Know your expected income in retirement and your current expenses. This will help you determine how much money you need to live on in retirement.
Consolidate your accounts: Track down all your retirement accounts, especially if you’ve worked with different employers throughout your career. Make sure to check all the benefits you may be eligible for and don’t forget to claim your state pension.
Pets Can Bring Tons of Happiness
Spending countless hours flipping through the pages of a newspaper may help you kill time but it usually doesn’t provide the type of companionship that most retirees want.
Consider getting a dog, cat, hamster, or any furry friend of your liking. Pets provide emotional benefits, making them an excellent source of happiness.
Owning a dog can help in improving cognitive decline and may even boost the owner’s longevity. In addition to loyal companionship, you can get the benefit of physical activity by regularly walking your dog.
If a furry friend is a no-no for you, perhaps a feathered friend will provide the type of companionship you want. Many bird species are low-maintenance and it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that suits your preferences.
Make Exercise Fun
Exercise should be something you look forward to and not some tedious, unexciting activity you have to do.
If joining a local gym or trudging a treadmill isn’t your idea of fun, perhaps you could go for mini hikes or walk briskly with a friend over a long distance.
In addition to boosting your immune system, increasing your energy levels, and improving your mood, studies show that exercise can also reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular issues in older people.
Engaging in moderate-intensity exercises for about 150 minutes a week is more than enough to provide plenty of physical and even mental health benefits.
Exercise Your Mind
Don’t neglect your mind if you want to enjoy a happy retirement. Similar to staying physically active, you want to keep your mind active by learning in your old age.
You don’t have to return to school to learn something new, although getting additional qualifications won’t hurt. You can learn a new language, an instrument, or a skill.
Here are a few other brain exercises you can do to improve cognitive function and boost your memory:
Make a list of grocery items or a to-do list, memorize it and try to recall as many items on the list as you can after about an hour or so.
Draw a map from memory.
Challenge your taste buds by trying to identify the individual ingredients in your meal.
Visualize a word in your mind and think of other words that begin and end with the same letters as the first word.
Instead of lounging on your sofa all day, you will be more productive if you put all that free time into challenge yourself mentally. Besides, exercising your mind can help you to stay independent.
Develop a Routine and Follow It
It can get boring pretty fast if you have nothing to do all day besides playing golf or reaching for the next available tabloid.
Take some time to create a list of things you will like to do over a week, month, or whatever timeframe that works for you. It could be learning new hobbies, doing voluntary work, or learning a new skill. Now, find a way to fit these activities into your daily routine.
Once you have developed this routine, make sure you stick to it for the entire duration. Note the things that need changing or improving and make the necessary adjustments. It will amaze you how your days go faster and become more productive, even though you are not actively working.
Retirement doesn’t mean going into isolation. One of the surest ways to keep boredom at bay is to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. You can even build new relationships when you are retired.
The point is to go out and socialize, whether it is with old friends from high school or the folks back in your old place of work.
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, being with other people and spending quality time with them has plenty of benefits. Older people with a rich social life enjoy strong social support, which can significantly reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Return to the Workforce
It is not uncommon for some people to be very passionate about their work. If this is you, it may be necessary for you to re-enter the workforce to find true happiness.
After all, one of the best things you can do in retirement is to follow your passion – do what you love. If you are truly passionate about your old job, or something similar, by all means, go break a leg!
In some cases, though, unexpected money problems can make retirees find part-time jobs. While getting a part-time job may not be part of your original retirement plan, it might be the only way to stay happy in retirement if you have to solve pressing financial problems.
Finding and staying happy in retirement is not difficult if you know what to do. The trick is to switch up your activities every once in a while to avoid boredom.
In addition to that, follow the suggestions in this article and maintaining a positive outlook about life should be easy.
John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.