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The Dangers of Retirement

Did you know that the odds of someone experiencing depression go up about 40% after you retire? It’s counterintuitive – many people believe that they’ll feel nothing but happiness when they retire. After all, you’ve worked for retirement your entire life! Now is the time to live it up, pursue your passion, and leave the stress of your 9-5 behind. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, many people find themselves feeling a lack of fulfillment or purpose when they enter retirement. Let’s go over why depression runs rampant among retirees, and how you can plan ahead to avoid this major retirement pitfall.

Why Is Retirement a Challenge for Some?

If you think about it, feeling depressed, anxious, or even just a little aimless during retirement makes perfect sense. You’ve spent an entire lifetime building and growing a career. Many people love their jobs, but even if you don’t fall into that camp, your full-time work gave you a reason to get up every day. You had set tasks, expectations, and goals that you were actively working toward. 

More importantly, you had a routine you could count on. Your days likely followed a similar pattern with some deviation here and there. You may be thinking: 

But I don’t love my current, full-time routine. I’m excited to feel like I’m on vacation 24/7. 

Here’s the thing: vacation is amazing. Taking long, relaxing days to recharge can be a game changer – when you’re resting after giving your all to your full-time job, or daily life. Having every day feel like a vacation may sound great in theory, but after a while it can get old. There’s no true purpose during vacation, and no real routine to follow. As people, we really crave that set pattern, and without it we struggle to thrive. 

How Can You Combat Depression in Retirement?

Luckily, there are ways you can combat depression and anxiety in retirement. A little bit of forward-thinking and planning ahead can go a long way. 

Think about your lifestyle before you retire. Start thinking about your retirement planning as a kind of blueprint-creation. You want to plan for the financial aspect of your retirement, but you also want to plan for everything else: 

  • Your lifestyle
  • How you’ll spend your day-to-day
  • Where you’ll live
  • Who you’ll spend time with
  • Ways you’ll stay physically and mentally fit

Mapping out your retirement lifestyle before you retire can help you to make the transition into full-time retirement smoothly.

Stay healthy. Staying healthy can help you to continue feeling great throughout your retirement. Putting together a plan in place to support your healthy lifestyle might include:

  • Joining a gym that has community fitness classes
  • Scheduling regular appointments with a therapist to keep your mental health in check as you go through this major life transition
  • Getting more involved in your faith or community to say social and emotionally fulfilled

Connect with your community. Whether you’re involved in your local religious organization, a volunteering group, or you just have a group of friends who have remained close for the last several years – take this time to reconnect with your community. Staying social during retirement can help to give you purpose, and fill the time that your work used to take up.

Develop hobbies. You might already have a long list of hobbies you’re excited to pursue in retirement, and that’s great! But if you’re feeling like you’re not sure how you’re going to fill day after day, it’s time to start exploring what makes you happy. Take a community art or writing class, try your hand at gardening, or enroll in music lessons. Whatever you choose to do, don’t be afraid of trying something new! This is an exciting new chapter in your life, and you get to spend it filling your time with activities you love.

Refocus your purpose. If work has always given you purpose in life, it might be time to refocus your purpose and priorities. What else do you have in your life that gives your days meaning? This might be your family, friends, a favorite pet, hobbies – don’t limit yourself! You have so much going for you, and you can find meaning and purpose beyond your professional accomplishments.

Create new routines. Break out a pencil and paper, and try writing out a few new routines for yourself after you retire. Start by thinking about what your current day looks like. How many hours do you spend commuting, at the office, or in front of your computer? How can you fill that time after you retire? It can help to break the day into different time blocks:

  • Morning
  • Afternoon
  • Evening

Having recurring tasks, or routines, that fill at least part of those time blocks can help you fill your time and build in a schedule that you’ll crave after you leave your full-time job.

Don’t stop growing. One thing that likely motivated you throughout your career was the idea of personal and professional growth. You pursued different awards or goals with determination, and now that you’re heading into retirement it might feel like those things have disappeared – leaving a big, gaping hole in your life. Don’t worry! You can still pursue goals and growth during retirement. Start by deciding what areas of your life you’d like to grow in or improve. Then, put together a plan with self-set goals. For example, you might want to become closer to your kids and grandkids during retirement. Decide in advance what steps you want to take to achieve that goal. They might be:

  • Hosting a weekly pot luck for all of your kids and grandkids who are local
  • Offering to pick your grandkids up from school every day to give your kids a little bit of extra time to wrap up their workdays at the office
  • Taking your grandkids on monthly ice cream outings where you get to spend some one-on-one time with them
  • Making it a priority to attend every one of your grandkid’s soccer games this fall
  • Scheduling time to call your adult children regularly to check in, and ask about their life

Let’s Build a Plan That Goes Beyond the Numbers

Are you ready to build a retirement plan that nails down your finances and your lifestyle? Contact us today! Our Deerfield Financial Advisors team would love to help.