As decades of work turns into free time in retirement, it is natural to feel a bit confused as you make the transition. Where you once spent your entire day cooped up in an office with several other people, it can be tempting to begin spending hours on end cooped up in your house alone. Of course, that’s no way to spend your golden years! Unfortunately, a large segment of retirees find themselves feeling down – or worse, diagnosed with depression – as they lose the sense of identity once attached to their work.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though! If you find yourself dealing with the blues, remember these five ways to boost happiness and you’ll be back on the sunny side of the street before long:
Build new relationships and strengthen older ones
There’s no way around it, human beings are social creatures. As you separate from the workplace, take care to maintain the friendships you cherish. Meet an old buddy for lunch every once in a while to catch up on life, it will give both of you a much-needed break from the daily routine. That’s not all, though, you’ll want to seek out opportunities to reconnect with family, too. And, since you have so many extra hours in the day, you can get out and meet some new people to widen your circle. Do your best to find avenues to stimulating conversation, whether it’s with a child home from college or fellow gardening fanatic.
If you’re like most people, old wounds can creep into your mind when there aren’t other activities to keep your brain busy. Everyone has been through bad experiences and – whether we know it or not – mistreated someone. Find a way to release all that pent-up energy, as it is toxic waste to your emotional state. Without releasing the pain, either through a long journal entry or a polite conversation, you leave yourself susceptible to focusing on negative circumstances – an antidote to happiness if there ever was one.
Engage in something meaningful to you
There is nothing quite like a worthy cause to energize people. Find a way to connect with an organization doing good in your community, whether it’s providing services to cancer patients or helping children from rough neighborhoods learn how to read. The fact of the matter, despite how you may feel, is that you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that could make a difference in someone else’s life. When you dedicate time to the pursuit of something larger than yourself, you are more likely to encounter joy and fulfillment. Plus, you will be able to share your passion with another, which might light a fire that burns bright well into the future.
It seems like the list of benefits tied to regular exercise gets longer and longer every day. Studies continually show that maintaining even a basic level of fitness is good for more than your body – your brain gets a good workout, too. Though the mechanisms aren’t fully understood, scientists have discovered links between emotional health and physical activity, as well as delays in the onset of memory loss or dementia.
Find ways to be grateful
It might sound a bit trite, but counting your blessings is a simple way to get back in a good frame of mind. Strange as it is to say, you can’t really focus on more than one thing at a time. If you are holding onto pictures of the best things in your life – great family and friends, fun hobbies – you will find it easier to brush off something that tries to bring you down. When you start to feel your mood shift into a lower gear, quickly name ten things that make you smile (then another ten and another, if necessary).