Whether you’re already retired, or you’re looking forward to the day soon… there’s likely a big question looming over your head.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise,” but it may be even better to insert some “happy” into that equation.
As much as most of us are looking forward to retirement, once it happens, there’s a surprising amount of reported, well, unhappiness. To be sure, retirement doesn’t have to mean boredom, sickness, being alone, and slowing down. In fact, this is the time to really perk up and seriously start smelling the roses. And with these 12 healthy retirement tips, you’re sure to enjoy a better and HAPPIER retirement.
12 Healthy Retirement Tips
Tip 1: Never Stop Learning
Keeping your mind alert is vital. How do you accomplish this? Never stop learning! Take on some hobbies or projects you’ve always been interested in but never had the time to pursue. Maybe you never had the time or money to enjoy some good golf, and now you do. Maybe you’d like to take a sewing class or learn to be a first-class gardener. Or, maybe you even want to finish that degree that was never quite completed. How about finally learning or dusting off that lovely language you’ve always enjoyed the sounds of.
According to researchers at the University of Texas, in terms of keeping your brain sharp, it’s most important that you learn new activities. It’s not helpful to just engage in the same old routines that are tried and true for you. To keep your brain alert, you have to constantly challenge yourself, mentally. Whatever direction you choose, keeping your brain active and your mind alert will also help you be an interesting and engaging person.
Tip 2: Be Social
Now that you’re transitioning into retirement, it’s important to keep your friendships alive and be active in your community. Don’t hole up in the house hidden behind a television remote. Now is the time to get out and enjoy spending time with others and have some fun. Interaction with others is one of the staples of life (and the key to a healthy retirement).
We weren’t designed to traverse life alone. Case in point: researchers at Harvard Medical School say that strong, happy marriages lead to longer, healthier lives, especially in older men. So, freshen up, put your dancing shoes on, and head out for some good food and good fun with friends.
Tip 3: Stay Fit & Active
Just because you’ve retired doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be hitting the gym. In fact, it may be more important for you now than ever before. Dr. Mark McDaniel, professor of psychology at Washington University, says exercise is one of the most important things you can do to not only keep your body young, but also keep your mind sharp as you age.
And, don’t just stick to Silver Sneakers aerobic programs. For a healthy retirement, it’s critical that you branch out into resistance training as well. He says, “I would suggest a combined program of aerobics and weight training. Studies show the best outcomes for those engaged in both types of exercise.”
Staying active will benefit you in numerous ways. Not only will you be able to keep your metabolism strong and your body youthful, but you’ll relieve stress and boredom, too. The boost you get in your self-confidence and the new friends you meet through exercise will be priceless.
Tip 4: Eat a Healthy Diet
Again, it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy diet as you age. Eating a balanced diet of whole natural foods will allow your body to maintain a strong immune system and fend off potential disease. Not sure how to eat? How about taking a cooking class to learn something new and meet new people at the same time. A win-win-win!
Also, cutting back the alcohol to just a few drinks a week seems to be beneficial as well. The New York Times reports that aging bodies may be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Not only that, but alcohol can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and affect the way your medications work. So, indulge wisely.
Tip 5: Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Don’t forget to laugh and have fun! According to Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, a psychologist and laugh therapist, “The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”
Research even says laughter can boost your immune system. It’s a known fact that endorphins are released when you engage in laughter, but it also helps reduce stress, lower blood sugar, lessen pain, and help promote better sleep. Plus, who doesn’t look younger with a big smile on their face?
Tip 6: Volunteer—Give Back
Not only is volunteering something that can benefit others, it can benefit you, too. Greek philosopher Aristotle said that “to serve others and do good” is the essence of life. Studies show those who volunteer with good intentions and the desire to truly help tend to live longer and are more likely to enjoy a healthy retirement.
Tip 7: Have a Sense of Purpose
It’s important to continue setting goals and striving to reach them, no matter what your age. An Oxford University study revealed that simply having a purpose or a mission was enough to increase life expectancy by a full 15% over those with no direction in life.
Meditation and gratitude can help you get focused and find meaning in your life and your existence. Try spending a few minutes each day being grateful for the things you have, the people in your life, and all the goodness surrounding you.
And, if you really need some purpose and you’re feeling a bit lost, there’s nothing that says you can’t get back into the workforce, part time. If you find yourself needing to belong or still be part of something, taking on a part-time job may be just what the doctor ordered.
Tip 8: Be Smart About Your Money
You should have a retirement plan, and it’s a great idea to have a good financial advisor on speed dial. One thing you do not want to worry about when it comes to retirement is money. Know how much you have to spend on your monthly budget and stick to it.
Remember, people are living much longer these days, and with healthcare costs in the U.S. at an all-time high, it’s important to plan accordingly and make sure you have yourself covered, financially, for the long haul.
Also, you don’t need to overspend on the grandkids. They don’t need your money or extravagant gifts. What they really need, and will cherish, is your time, attention, and love. So, play it smart and keep on top of your retirement plans, adjusting as necessary as you go along.
Tip 9: Live with Structure and a Daily Schedule
You’re not on vacation: you’re retired. That means it’s important to have a daily schedule and follow it. Sure, for a few days or even a week or two immediately upon retirement, it’s okay to lounge around a bit and soak up the fact that you don’t have to punch a clock. That said, it’s important to roust yourself and get into a routine.
Have some projects in the works, whether it’s finishing that kitchen remodel or restoring the old car in the garage. Keeping to a daily schedule and always striving to complete projects will leave you with a sense of purpose, a feeling of pride in your accomplishments and a more enjoyable and healthy retirement.
Tip 10: Stay Positive
You can always look at anything with a positive or a negative viewpoint. Put a positive spin on things and you’ll be a lot happier in life. Part of staying positive is being grateful. Look around you and enjoy and appreciate all the goodness in your life.
Tip 11: Get a Pet
Pets can do wonders for you. Actually, it’s quite the symbiotic relationship. You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers that say, “Who saved whom?” and truth be told, it’s probably about fifty-fifty. Many studies show that just spending time with a pet is a huge stress reliever, and there are numerous other ways pets help make you healthier. Plus, it’s good to have someone else to focus your attention on and to shower someone who relies on you with a lot of love.
Tip 12: Get a Hobby
You’ve probably heard people say, “Get a hobby!” and it proves to be a great tip when it comes to a healthy retirement. Whether your hobby is traveling the world and taking in the sights, hiking nearby mountains, flying model airplanes, or entering cooking contests, now is the time to enjoy yourself and focus on the activities that make you happy. Typically, hobbies make folks happy, so spending time doing what you love can make a world of difference in your daily outlook.
By following these few simple tips, you should find yourself awakening each day feeling inspired and excited about the adventure that awaits you as you enter this new chapter of your life. Now, go out and enjoy your happy and healthy retirement.