Four Strategies for Overcoming Boredom in Retirement
So, you’ve made it to retirement – congratulations! Your many years of hard work, smart financial choices and proper life planning have paid off and you’re now enjoying the best years of your life. Or, are you?
Like many big life changes, retirement can bring with it some surprises. One that catches many retirees off-guard is just how difficult it can be to fill your days when you no longer have the obligation of work – or the natural social life that stemmed from daily interaction with coworkers. So, if you’re feeling bored or even daunted by the idea of so much free time on your calendar, rest assured you’re not alone.
Still, it takes thoughtful commitment to overcome boredom in retirement. It’s not just about keeping yourself busy, it’s about making sure you feel fulfilled. Read on to learn how to overcome this common retirement challenge so you can live the retirement of your dreams.
Face Possible Depression Head-On
Feeling bored and disconnected from life as you knew it before retirement can have serious negative effects on your physical, mental and emotional health. In fact, these feelings can lead to late-life depression, which affects more than six million Americans. Many people assume depression is about sadness. In truth, though, it can present as feeling tired, being irritable, having a little appetite or struggling with insomnia. Depressed older adults show less ability to bounce back from physical health challenges, and they are at an increased risk of premature death. If you’ve begun experiencing one or more of these things in retirement, speak to your doctor. In some cases, it could be that a medication you’re on is causing side effects that mimic depression. Even if it’s not a simple answer, though, it’s important to address the issue of depression head-on so that you can go on to enjoy a better quality of life in your remaining retirement years.
Relieve Yourself of Distractions
If you’ve been misdirecting your time and energy into simply filling up your calendar, stop right now and reevaluate your days. Remove the “filler” from your schedule – the things that aren’t truly meaningful or enjoyable for you – and cultivate a schedule that serves what’s important to you instead. For many retirees, too much screen time can be a big issue, so consider trimming down the amount of time you spend in from of the television or other devices. Sure, our screens keep us feeling connected to the outside world, but too much sedentary time isn’t healthy. In fact, an NIH-AARP study recently linked five or more hours of screen time per day to an enhanced risk of future physical disability in those aged 65 or older. So, if you want to begin enjoying your retirement more, consider eschewing screen time in exchange for other pursuits – especially if they get you up and moving.
Revisit Your Past Dreams and Goals
If retirement has you feeling like a different person, chances are you’re feeling unfulfilled, too. This can happen easily because it’s natural for your work to be a big part of how you come to define yourself. Once that work is gone, many retirees feel adrift. If you’re experiencing this, try going back in time and connecting to memories that remind you of who you were – and who you still are. In particular, think about your past ambitions and goals. Have you accomplished them? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a business or write a novel, become a gourmet cook or travel the world. It’s important to remember that it isn’t too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Don’t be afraid to tackle challenging and exciting pursuits in your retirement years in order to truly make the most of this special time in your life.
Sometimes, boredom in retirement really stems from loneliness. Studies show this can be as dangerous for your health as obesity or smoking. In fact, loneliness is sometimes referred to as a “disease of isolation” because of its incredibly damaging impact on physical, mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly common to feel lonely in retirement. We often don’t realize how much of our social interaction and fulfillment comes from our work until it’s gone. Suddenly, we feel rudderless when it comes to forging social connections. If you’re experiencing this, know that you are responsible for your own happiness and you have the power to change the course of your social life. Though it can be difficult to put yourself out there to make new friends and acquaintances, it’s so worthwhile to do so. Consider getting involved in a church or community group, a book club at the library or a walking club at a local gym. You could volunteer, take a course at a community college or learn a new skill. Regardless of how you choose to engage in a new social life, focus on making contacts and forging connections. Friendships are so important to a happy and fulfilling retirement, and there are many retirees out there who would be grateful to make a new connection, too.
Don’t Give Up on Living Your Best Life in Retirement
Boredom in retirement can easily keep you from living out the fulfilling and enjoyable life you always dreamed of for your later years. Don’t let it steal what could be many of the best years of your life! If you’re fighting depression, tackle it head-on. If your day-to-day schedule leaves you feeling underwhelmed, trim the fat and focus your time on the people and things that matter to you. If you still have a few goals to check off your bucket list, remember your past ambition and use it to accomplish something that’s always been important to you. If you’re feeling isolated, seek out new social connections.
It’s never too late to begin living your very best life in retirement. Take charge of your days and use the above strategies to overcome boredom and add more meaning to your life starting right now.