Retirement is a time of life most of us look forward to for many years. We envision relaxing days mixed with daily activities of our own choosing. But what happens a few months after you retire? Once you have had time to enjoy carefree days and are now seeking days with more purposeful activity?
According to research, a lack of purpose in life can boost a senior’s risk for health conditions like heart disease and depression by as much as 40 percent. That’s pretty strong evidence for the need to create meaningful days after retiring.
Living a Purpose-Driven Retirement
How can you go about bringing purpose to your life when you’ve given up working and your family is grown and gone? Here are some suggestions you might find useful:
- Support a cause: Knowing someone is counting on you makes life feel more significant. While you probably aren’t looking for a full-time project after you retire, donating a few hours a week to a cause that you believe in is a good way to find purpose. Think about what means most to you. Do you enjoy spending time with children? Or maybe animals are your passion? Then reach out to organizations that serve that community to see if they need volunteers. You might also consider contacting your local United Way agency for advice or utilizing an online site, like VolunteerMatch.
- Follow your heart: If you are someone who spent your working days conforming to an employer’s schedule, having the freedom to chart your own day is empowering. Without purpose, however, it can also lead to unhealthy habits. One that can be especially unhealthy is becoming sedentary. Research shows sitting for long periods of time can be nearly as bad for you as smoking. A healthier approach is to structure your day in a more purposeful manner. Have you wanted to learn how to play the drums or dreamed of writing a screenplay? By following your heart and turning long ignored hopes into reality, you also protect your mental and physical health.
- Pursue hobbies: Most days are hectic when you are juggling raising a family with the demands of the working world. For many people, hobbies and special interests are put on the back burner. Take some time now to reflect on what you loved doing as a child or young adult. Did you enjoy spending time in nature or drawing portraits of your family? Maybe you liked singing with your church choir or square dancing? Reconnecting with old hobbies or exploring new ones will help bring meaning to your days.
Commit to Healthy Self-Care
While this recommendation is a little different than the others, it’s an important part of maintaining your health during the retirement years. By making self-care a priority, you can keep a preventable medical crisis from disrupting your plans. Consume a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated. Commit to exercising regularly, and incorporate weight training, stretching, and cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine. Get 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
Finally, schedule a yearly appointment with your primary care physician. What is the Medicare Wellness Visit, and How Much Does It Cost? is a good article to review to learn more about a benefit that most seniors are entitled to every year.