By Cher Zevala
For most people, retirement is a much-anticipated break from decades of hard work. Yet, as much as most of us eagerly await the day we retire, the prospect of having nothing scheduled to fill our days can be incredibly intimidating. In fact, some studies indicate that retirement increases a person’s risk of depression by about 40 percent because retired people often fail to remain physically active or mentally engaged.
I admit that after I retired, I sank into a funk. However, by working to build the lifestyle I always wanted, I was able to continue to live an invigorating post-retirement life. The most important step in beating the retirement blues is keeping busy, so here are a few ideas to help you get started.
- Find a Furry Friend
Pets are more than fuzzy responsibilities; studies show that pets provide quantifiable health benefits, such as less pain, lower blood pressure, and increased incentive to exercise. Plus, some pets can be trained to provide support around the house, including alerting others in the event of a health crisis. Shelters are desperate to find loving homes for neglected or aging pets, so you can find a furry companion today, if you want to.
- Start a Hobby and Join a Club
Finding joy in life is crucial to staving off depression, so you might consider devoting the first few months of your retirement to trying out many hobbies to find the one that suits you. Some hobbies you sample include:
- Knitting, crocheting, or embroidering
- Playing instruments
- Painting or sculpting
- Practicing yoga or tai chi
Once you find something you truly enjoy, you should seek out like-minded people to socialize with. There are clubs for nearly every interest, but if you can’t find one nearby, you should consider forming your own.
- Try Coin Collecting
Coin collecting is incredibly rewarding, especially for introverts and history buffs in retirement. Every coin tells a story; for example, this 1879 silver dollar contains the tale of the brief economic depression of the late 19th century and the government’s currency-related response. There is a diverse world of coins waiting to be collected and admired, and an accompanying community of collectors eager to help beginners out. I highly recommend coin collecting (or numismatics, as some call it) during your golden years.
- Delve Into the Past
Who are you? Where do you come from? There are questions every person grapples with, but you have the time to find out. Genealogies take work to complete, and often you must travel to distant cities to uncover the truth about your family’s past. However, eventually you will find out something fascinating about a distant ancestor that will make the effort well worthwhile.
- Start Your Re-Education
Everyone has something they’ve been dying to know more about. Maybe it’s a foreign language, maybe it’s Victorian literature, or maybe it’s taekwondo; whatever you want to study, now is your chance. Your local community college probably has classes that will sate your desire to learn, or you could look for online courses on sites like Coursera, which offers free classes from real university professors.
- Give Back
Undoubtedly, you’ve been meaning to give back to your community for most of your life, but you just never managed to find the time. Fortunately, in retirement, you have ample time to donate to your favorite causes. Most charitable organizations are eager for volunteers, which means you can spend your time helping others in the best possible ways. You can check online for local volunteer schedules or call your favorite organizations to ask about opportunities.
- Work on Your Home
You might not have spent much time in your home before now, what with running back and forth from work and other important responsibilities. However, when you’re retired, your home becomes your base of operations ― your HQ ― which means you should make it as comfortable and functional as you can. Now is a great time to start a few DIY home improvement projects, as long as you only tackle those projects you know how to handle.
- Get Up and Out
If you are still blessed with good health and a full bank account, your golden years are perfect for travel. Whether you pack up an RV explore every inch of the country or you jet-set around the world, getting out of your comfort zone could provide the mental and physical stimulation you need to overcome retirement-related depression.
Plus, there’s no better way to grow old than on a sunny beach in some tropical paradise.