Oh, the retirement years —
hours of relaxation, visiting family and doing many of the activities you've
always wanted to do. Stress-free at last. Or maybe not.
some research suggests that retirees experience less stress than when they were
working, a lot depends on the person, experts say.
in retirement is linked to two key factors: health and financial status, says
geriatric expert Richard Schulz, director of the University of Pittsburgh
Center for Social and Urban Research. "People who have health problems
continue to experience the stresses associated with these problems; financial
difficulties also contribute to a stressed retirement experience.
retirement — due to health problems, downsizing, being fired — is associated
with a more negative retirement experience," he says.
Amit Sood, author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to
Stress-Free Living, says the
keys to lowering your stress include creatively tackling your stressors, having
an attitude of gratitude, accepting people, especially your spouse, for who
they are, and being kind to others and yourself.
is also a great way to ward off stress, says Steve Brody, a psychologist in
Cambria, Calif., who works with retirees. He's the co-author of Renew Your Marriage at Midlife written with his wife, Cathy
Brody. "We are social creatures, so we need to stay connected with
important to deal with stressors because your chances of a heart attack,
stroke, cancer or early death are lower if you have less stress, says Sood, a
professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
common stressors in retirement and ways to cope with them:
1. Financial concerns. Many retirees experience stress from living
on a fixed income, Brody says. They worry that they won't be able to take care
of themselves or their family.
strategy: Beware of "awfulizing and catastrophizing your situation,"
Brody says. Change your way of thinking. Instead of telling yourself, you won't
be able to make ends meet, think, "I don't have as much money as I'd like,
but I have $2,500 a month, and I can live on that."
Sood: Be grateful for what you have, and if necessary, simplify your life. You
might consider getting a smaller home — it's less expensive and easier to
maintain. Consider getting a part-time job.
worries. Health problems and changes in insurance coverage can create
enormous stress, Sood says.
strategy: Take care of your body by eating a healthful diet, exercising
regularly, getting enough sleep and getting preventive care, Sood says. Don't
become overly focused on your health and spend all your time obsessing about
it, he says. Play the hand you have. Embrace life's uncertainties by letting go
of the uncontrollable, he says. "We have to accept the changes happening
in the body and be grateful for the good health we have and the medical care we
Caregiving. You may have to deal with the ill health of your spouse, a
parent or other relative, Schulz says. Being a caregiver, particularly for
illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease that involve cognitive impairment, has
been shown to be extremely stressful. The stress tends to accumulate for long
periods of time, years typically, and affects the health and functioning of the
strategy: The No. 1 strategy is getting help from others, including relatives,
friends and professionals, Schulz says. You should become informed about the
condition and how to deal with it. On the positive side, you know you are
easing the suffering of someone close to you.
Relationship issues. Some
people have not reconciled their differences with their spouse or learned to
accept the other person for who they are, Sood says. Some retirees feel lonely
and isolated after leaving colleagues, and others don't get to spend as much
time with their kids and grandkids as they'd like, Brody adds.
strategy: Learn to accept your spouse and others for who they are, Sood says.
Work on forgiveness. You don't want to close your life with lots of hurts, he
says. "The magic of retirement is having the time to nurture
the keys to interacting with kids and grandkids is give them space, and when
you are with them try to help and support them with their daily chores, he
Brody: Adult children have a lot going on in their lives. Being aware of that
can help you adjust your expectations so you don't end up nagging them or
getting depressed over not seeing them enough.
Super-charged changes. This is
a time of enormous change. You are leaving your job and friendships with
colleagues and finding new things to do, Sood says.
strategy: Realize that your brain's reward center likes variety, so give
yourself a variety of experiences, Sood says. "Let your best friends not
be the TV, refrigerator or couch. Let your best friends be real people, books
and sports shoes."
your first year in retirement as if you are "interning" to give
yourself time to readjust and set new expectations, he says. Find meaning in
new passions, including possibly using your work skills in a new job or
says three keys to a successful retirement are finding a sense of purpose for
yourself, structuring your day and replacing the social connections you lost
when you retired. Also, if you can retire gradually, going to a half-time job
for a year before fully retiring, it's easier to acclimate, he says.
your spiritual values, which may mean developing a deeper connection with your
faith, Sood says. "Live your life fully, and say your 'I love yous' every
day." Most importantly, do not postpone joy and do not bypass
for the original article in USA Today.