After the exhilaration of leaving the job subsides, it’s common for retirees to feel the blues settle in. The certainty that what you do matters – long attached to work or family commitments – can wane to the point you feel miserable. As the emotion remains, it’s natural to consider consulting a doctor, but would like it if someone came along and said, “This is how I treated depression without medication.” What if there were a way to care for yourself with only positive side effects instead of dealing with symptoms of nausea, restlessness, and decreased libido? Though it’s important to remember severe cases will probably require some pharmaceutical intervention, more and more research is being done into non-medical methods to produce results. If you have a mild form, give these natural activities a try – just be sure to consult with your physician if there are no signs of improvement.
Get some exercise
A lot of people, once settled into retirement, think “slowing down” means coming to a complete stop. Instead of carrying on – or adopting – an active lifestyle including regular exercise, they take up a spot on the couch or in a favorite chair. There can be little doubt physical activity carries with it a long list of benefits for body and mind, so take a minimum of thirty minutes at least five days per week to break a sweat. The increased blood flow and feel-good hormones will be great for your brain.
Spend time with others
Retirement is a unique opportunity to fill your time with loads of new social connections. Going out of your way to see fresh faces is stimulating, both from the point of encountering different ideas and simply working to learn names. Human beings are hard-wired for communication and contact, which means a lack of significant relationships is a major problem to us. Avoid looking for reasons to hide behind the curtain – get out there and share your experiences, whether within your own peer group or as a volunteer in the local school system.
Hit the hay
Sleep has a powerful restorative effect. After years of pushing it aside to meet deadlines for the sake of your employer and then rising early to get back to work, it’s very likely you will have adapted to fewer hours of rest than you actually need. This creates a stress response in your brain, which affects overall function. Find a way to develop better habits by intentionally getting to bed around the same time every night. If you have trouble settling down, shut off the TV and read a book or thoughtful magazine article – think The New Yorker instead of People – for a half-hour before lying down, too.
All that said, it’s crucial that you monitor your feelings. If you are struggling to see any difference after a few weeks, then you would be wise schedule an appointment with a medical professional to be certain there aren’t other factors at work. Though none of us likes to have our happiness tied to taking pills, sometimes it’s necessary.