The beginning of retirement is an excellent time to turn a new leaf and focus on building healthy habits while also letting go of some less-than-healthy ones.
One of the best ways to break a bad habit (such as mindlessly snacking during your favorite TV show) is to replace old habits with new ones. This doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of all the activities or treats that you love — the key is balance. It's also easier to make new habits stick if they're activities you truly enjoy.
Here are a few habits to focus on for a healthy retirement, along with tips on how to make changes to your routine.
1. Maintain Strong Social Connections
Retirement can feel isolating. Without the built-in routine of work, you don't interact with your usual circle of coworkers in the same way throughout the week.
Although you should enjoy your alone time in retirement, it's also important to maintain close relationships with your friends and family. To ensure friendships don't fall by the wayside, make socializing a habit by scheduling a weekly coffee or lunch date with friends or old coworkers.
You can also start expanding your social circle by joining groups that unite people with common interests, such as exercise classes, volunteer groups or art classes at the local recreation center.
2.Nourish Your Body With Healthy Food
A recent study found that in retirement, many people — especially men — consume fewer fruits and vegetables. If this sounds familiar to you, you could be missing out on the key nutrients that keep your mind and body healthy for decades to come.
Retirement is an excellent time to revisit your eating habits. If you often rely on takeout, consider taking a cooking class or learning some new recipes, since you're more likely to eat healthier when you dine at home. Eating at home can also add up to serious savings compared with the cost of dining out.
If you're used to noshing on snacks like chips and cookies, try creating new habits by finding healthier alternatives for processed foods. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, trade white bread for whole-grain bread or sip sparkling water instead of soda.
3. Get Moving
Beyond being beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, exercise can also provide an emotional boost by keeping you active, fulfilled and socially engaged.
Whether you prefer group fitness classes, spending time outdoors on the trail or following a yoga video at home, all types of physical activity can help support your health in retirement.
If you're struggling to make your exercise habit stick, try working out with a friend, scheduling workouts in advance or setting goals to keep yourself motivated for each session.
4. Practice Mindfulness
"Mindfulness" has become a wellness buzzword in recent years. This type of meditation helps bring you into the present moment, often with the help of breathing techniques or other relaxation methods, according to the Mayo Clinic. Being more mindful can help reduce stress as well as decrease blood pressure.
Wondering how to get started with mindfulness — and how to make the habit stick? Many people use mindfulness apps on their phones that include reminders to check in each day for a short meditation session. Or, you can simply practice mindfulness every time you sit down to enjoy a meal, making sure to notice the taste and texture of the food.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Getting quality sleep is as important as ever in retirement. The idea that the body and mind need less sleep as they age is a common myth — you should still aim to get a solid seven to nine hours a night, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Clean up your sleep habits by following the guidelines for good sleep hygiene, which include keeping a regular sleep schedule, avoiding screens in the bedroom and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine such as reading a book, stretching or enjoying a bath.
Take care of yourself, both body and mind, with these healthy habits. Your long, happy retirement awaits.