Retirement is supposed to be a reward for putting in decades of work and dedication. It should be a time to explore, relax, and enjoy reacquainting yourself with your loved ones and hobbies. However, for many hitting retirement age and letting go of their working life is the point where boredom takes over and their health begins to decline, limiting their actions and ability to enjoy life.
Researchers have spent years trying to determine whether retirement is bad for health, good for health, or has no bearing either way. While there have been studies, which indicate the risk of heart attack and stroke rises by 40% among retirees it should be considered why.
Often, a decline in health among retirees is the same thing causing boredom. When you have spent your life following the same pattern of getting up and going to work every morning it can be difficult to adjust to an entirely new routine.
How Retirement Changes Your Life
Even good changes can have a real impact on your life, and retirement certainly reshapes your social interactions, psychosocial stress, and your health behaviors, too. It is an entire identity change because for so many years you identified yourself by the job that you did. Once that’s gone it can be difficult to redefine yourself.
We should really stop looking at retirement as an event and instead view it as a process. According to Dartmouth’s Life Stress Test, retirement is number 10 on life’s most stressful moments (https://www.dartmouth.edu/~eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf). While many retirees are able to transition smoothly, many are not so lucky.
There are plenty of ways you can avoid the typical boredom that accompany retirement, so make sure you start chasing boredom away before it has a chance to take hold of your life.
• Build A Network. Many people forget that it isn’t just their job they leave behind when they retire. They’re also disconnecting from their colleagues and friends. So, start building a new social circle. Whether that includes friends from work or you find all new friendships in your community, a strong social network is vital for your physical and mental health, as well as preventing boredom.
• Get Creative. Getting in touch with your creativity is a great way to stave off boredom and keep your brain ticking over. There are plenty of options, too, whether you enjoy painting or drawing or gardening is more your style. You can learn a new style of cooking, take up baking, start knitting, or even try pottery.
• Start Playing. What better way to get over boredom than by indulging in hobbies? Retirement is a great opportunity to hit the links for a round of golf, try ballroom dancing, go traveling, join a bowling league, or even take up bridge.
• Try Learning. Keeping your brain active will keep it healthy and improve your overall health. Why not try a new language, start playing an instrument, or pick a subject that interests you that you’d love to know about?
The level of engagement you require may depend on what type of job you spent your life invested in. If you were constantly challenged you may enjoy the relaxation, but you’ll also need to keep giving yourself challenges to overcome to stay healthy. You may even want to consider volunteering, it will provide you with a sense of purpose as well as help you forge new social connections in your community – all while giving back. Boredom can fuel poor mental health and once it sets in it can be difficult to shape, and with a decline in mental health comes a decline in overall health and well-being.