Adjusting from work life to retired life causes retirement depression and anxiety. Although you may have planned your retirement your whole working life, when it happens, the beginning at least can be a very odd period of life.
Ways to Combat Retirement Depression
Why Does Retirement Depression Occur
Retirees may feel that they have suddenly lost their identity.
Having lots of free time with no obligations can induce more panic and self-questioning.
People can become bored, distant from human connections, and feel lazy for not doing as much as they used to.
Specific worries are associated with retirement, such as: –
With age expectancy continually rising, how do we know if our income will be enough to last? Even the most careful planning or using a financial planner can never guarantee no monetary blips.
Outliving resources is probably the biggest concern most people have. You won’t be able to predict if you need home care or assisted living. You can only try to live a comfortable retirement, having all you need, drawing on savings when required without overspending.
Tip – If it helps, draw up a rough budget and utilize average retiree spending to work out if you’re on target.
Tip – Seek financial advice from a charity to ensure you’re maximizing your income.
Early or Forced Retirement
Even if you choose to take early retirement there are no guarantees that you won’t feel any depression or anxiety at having done so.
Anyone forced into retirement is likely to have some form of worry. It’s very daunting to suddenly be in a situation that you hadn’t planned for. Adjusting psychologically will naturally take longer and you’ll be left with unanswered questions as to why it happened to you.
Tip – If it’s an option to go back to work to improve your mental wellbeing, then consider what other jobs or voluntary jobs you can do. Even working part-time can be a great way to transition into retirement more easily.
Tip – Listen to what other early retirees have been through as they can give you some advice on what worked out or didn’t work out for them.
Why is Depression after Retirement Common?
Retirement depression is a fairly common issue. What once was not talked about, nowadays there is much more information as more people start to speak out.
Grief doesn’t associate only with death. In fact, many life changes can cause people to grieve, for example, marriage breakup, disownment by a family member, or a home being burned down. The loss of work identity is a valid reason for grief and depression, and retirees can go through the four stages of grief: – denial, anger, depression, and acceptance.
- Surely, I’m not retired?
- I hate retirement.
- What can I do all day?
- I’ve found a purpose and am now enjoying retirement.
Work is a massive part of our lives and apart from the work status and amount of time we spend at work, we also have meaningful relationships with colleagues, which can suddenly be lost.
Adjusting to Retirement Depression
The build-up to retirement can be very exciting. Yet often the reality is retirees find themselves not knowing what to do with the rest of their lives.
Freedom to do what you want can actually become an issue in retirement. Life can become mundane, boredom sets in, people are busy with their own lives, and depression begins.
Co-workers can easily be classed as friends when you’re in employment. You go out for work gatherings, chat with them at work daily, support them emotionally, and confide in them. But think about how many previous colleagues you’ve kept in contact with and have a meaningful friendship with.
Tip – Ensure you put your relationship in the correct perspective. If they are great friends, then keep the contact going. If they’re still working, consider meeting up with them during their lunch break.
Tip – After retiring, you probably won’t be introducing yourself as “Karen from Finance”, but when you meet new people there’s sure to be a discussion about your previous job. Don’t lose your identity because you stopped working and keep remembering what an important role you served.
Tip – The transition period from employment to retirement is the most difficult stage. For some, it takes little time, and for others, it can take years. Don’t be hard on yourself if you seem to be taking longer to transition than other people you know; everyone is different.
Where to Get Depression and Retirement Support
Know that what you’re going through, you’re not alone. Talk to family and friends and don’t bottle up your feelings. Talk to your doctor who can help you with advice and possibly with medication for serious cases of depression. There is also a wealth of charities out there to assist you.
Tip – Help Others
If you feel that you can support other people going through a similar situation, consider joining support groups or charities.
Tip – Be Altruistic
A good way to improve mental health is to give something back to your community. This doesn’t have to involve spending money; you could give up your time to a local charity.
If that sounds too much, then maybe try to do a good deed when you can. Help your neighbor look for their lost cat, help your grandchildren with their homework, or phone a friend that you know who is isolated.
Tip – Keep in Touch with Family and Friends
If you have access to the internet, consider joining an online retirement community.
Ultimately don’t do nothing. Think about what you want from your stage in life and try to achieve your goals.
Tip – Get a Hobby
Consider all the things you have wanted to do but never had the time because you were at work. Joining hobbies with social activities is a great way to maintain contact with others.
How do you optimize wellness during retirement? What advice can you give to others? Please share your own story in the comments section below.