Jim could hardly wait for retirement. He had worked 40 years at the same company. He had loved most of it, but the last few years had been challenging, stressful and draining. So, he called it quits on his 65th birthday, officially starting a new life in retirement. For the next few years, he did whatever he wanted. Mostly, that meant that he watched hours of television and only occasionally did some light house cleaning and cooking. It was the life he had daydreamed about for years. Finally, he had the luxury of time to watch all the sports he wanted with no real commitments on his time.
However, after a few years of this sedentary life, he realized that doing whatever he wanted was negatively affecting his mental and physical well-being. He had a hard time motivating himself to get out of the house to exercise (he used to go to the gym 3-5 times a week). He got angrier easier, and both his blood pressure and cholesterol had gone up. As a result of his inactivity, he had started taking blood pressure and cholesterol meds, his low back had starting hurting him and walking for even five minutes made him short of breath. In short, Jim’s health was failing and instead of being happy that he was retired, he was depressed. He was falling apart. What happened?
How can retirement be my golden years?
Retirement should not be about inactivity, continuous pleasure seeking, isolation and lack of purpose. It is the point in your life where you have the most time to properly care for your mental and physical well being. As you age, your health should be your top priority, so that you can age graceful and enjoy all the glorious opportunities that are possible during retirement. Here are seven tips you should embrace if you want your golden years to truly be golden:
- Be active: Regular exercise is key for maintaining good health as you age. Exercise has numerous health benefits, such as improved strength, posture, flexibility, increased energy, lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol, decreased stress, improved cognitive functioning and better quality sleep. Exercise helps keep you strong so that you can continue being independent. The more activity that you do, the better your health will be. Being sedentary is detrimental to your health, no matter how old you are or what pre-existing medical issue you might have. So, take a walk everyday, go to the gym, ride your bicycle or find an activity that you like that you can do on a consistent basis.
- Be socially active: Get involved in the community and volunteer in something that you are passionate about. Volunteering can give you a purpose. Plus it is a great way to make new friends, do something positive for your community, combat depression and increase life satisfaction.
- Keep your mind active: Be a lifelong learner. This will keep your life interesting and fun and your mind sharp and agile. So, find a new hobby, learn a new skill or keep up with technology and current events.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and little to no red meat, makes it harder for diseases, such as cancer and heart disease to strike.
- Be happy: If something is stressing you or getting you down; fix it. Live in a low stress place with a supportive community and access to nature. Happy people tend to live longer.
- Get plenty of sleep: Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep every night. Over time, lack of sleep can take a toll on your body and decrease its ability to function.
- Minimize your exposure to chemicals: Live in a place with clean air and water. Minimizing chemical exposure will reduce the work your body needs to do in order to keep you healthy.
The bottom line:
Retirement should not be defined by inactivity, but rather by having the time to focus on your well-being and health. It should be a time for you to embrace physical activity, healthy meals and forming new friends and contacts in your community. You have the ability to make retirement your golden years by choosing the right path. Your mental and physical health are largely determined by the decisions you make. So, choose well and enjoy living a long, fruitful and satisfying life!