If you're looking forward to the lazy days of retirement, it might be time for a quick reality check.
True, you could while away many of your days sipping cold drinks on the beach, but you'll probably also face times that don't leave you quite as relaxed. Learning how to relieve stress in retirement is one of the best ways to plan for those tougher times.
After many years of working, retirement should be a stress-free time. But it's also a drastic lifestyle change, especially if your daily routine and social life revolved around your work and co-workers. Income planning, estate decisions, lack of daily purpose, additional household responsibilities and end-of-life realities are common stressors in retirement.
Without a plan to combat the effects of stress and aging, retirement might leave you feeling lost, depressed and anxious. With a plan, though, you can move forward with resilience and peace of mind.
5 Healthy Ways to Combat Stress in Retirement
Not all stress relievers are healthy. Unhealthy eating and drinking habits, gambling and other addictive behaviors are unhealthy ways of dealing with stress in retirement.
Try these five tactics instead for healthy ways to relieve stress in retirement.
1. Take Time to Adapt
If you can ease into retirement, do it. It will give you a chance to gradually adapt to the new schedule, routine and priorities of your new lifestyle.
You could reduce the hours you're working at your full-time job or go to a part-time position or freelance work. If you like the structure of waking up at a set time and taking scheduled meals and coffee breaks, stick to this and adjust your schedule gradually. And instead of filling the times with more work, take up a new activity or hobby.
2. Practice Mindfulness, Meditation or Prayer
Retirement might be a good time to add mindfulness, journal writing, mediation or prayer to your day. Something as simple as journaling the things you feel thankful for each morning could help reduce stress and keep depression at bay, according to researchers at the University of Southern California.
3. Get Outdoors Every Day
Now that you have more freedom in your schedule, take every opportunity you can get to go outdoors and soak up some sunshine and vitamin D. Whether you're exercising outdoors or simply reading a book on your patio, take some daily outdoor time. Even as little as 15 minutes in a natural setting can help combat stress and depression.
Although it's technically physically stressful, regular aerobic exercise can help you relax, Harvard Medical School says. Physical activities such as walking, biking and tennis have a powerful neurochemical impact on the body, lowering stress hormones while producing endorphins, powerful mood elevators that lift your spirits.
5. Make Plans
Planning can also alleviate anxiety. Financial planning, legacy planning, securing health insurance and finding ways to spend your time — perhaps with a new hobby or activity — before retirement arrives can reduce stress when it finally comes.
Be Kind to Yourself in Retirement
Retirement is a significant change that can be exacerbated by stress and aging — unless you prepare. If you're wondering how to relieve stress in retirement, give yourself time to get used to the changes and introduce daily mindfulness, outdoor time and exercise to your routine. (Or continue them, if you're already practicing them.) Plan for financial, family and lifestyle situations to reduce potential discord or drama. Then relax and enjoy your well-earned retirement.