Anxiety and Depression in Retirement: You’re Not Alone…These Tips Can Help
You’ve retired, now what?
The day has finally arrived! You’ve retired from your job, or plan to soon. You’ve worked hard for many years and probably spent a lot of time dreaming and planning for the next chapter of your life, yet you may find yourself unable to shake the feeling that things just aren’t quite right.
You may have difficulty figuring out your priorities since you have wrapped so much of your identity into your job. You suddenly find yourself not knowing what to do with all the extra time you have on your hands, and your loved ones may not be sympathetic to your emotional state.
It’s important to realize that these feelings are completely normal. When the dust settles after retirement, many find it challenging to accept that the “vacation” is permanent, and the reality that you won’t be returning to work hits hard. In fact, this realization can often lead to loneliness, depression or anxiety.
A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study suggests that up to 33% of retirees report some level of depression or sadness, especially if the retirement was mandatory due to illness or some other factor outside of the retiree’s control.
You may be trying to convince yourself everything would be fine if you could just stop worrying and embrace your new retirement lifestyle. Trying to remain positive is important, but it can be difficult when emotions are running high.
Let’s explore some tips to help you take control of your mental health and find again!
Is it the blues or something more?
We all experience good days and bad on the rollercoaster of life, but when the bad days outweigh the good it can be challenging to manage feelings of dread or despair. Consider these suggestions with the understanding that contacting your own physician is the most important step you can take and these are only suggestions to point you in a direction:
1. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to get support from your physician or a therapist. Mental health professionals can supply roadmaps to help you out of the despair, and therapists are a valuable connection to help you sort through your emotions and chart a path forward.
2. If your doctor determines that you do have depression, there are a variety of treatment options that can include a combination of medication and or therapy. Otherwise, they will provide you with a suggested course of action to help you with your overall mental health plan.
3. It’s important to remember: If you find yourself needing help with a crisis, you do not need to wait for an appointment during office hours, there are many places you can call for immediate support.
Whether you seek professional help or not, there are things you can do to help yourself feel better about your new lifestyle, and even create a sense of hope about the future:
Ask your former employer if they have a retirement transition program. Many larger corporations provide this service for employees to ease the stress of the retirement process.
While it may seem obvious that staying active is a great way to keep your mental health in check, sometimes it can be difficult to motivate yourself to actually follow through. Even small steps toward an activity or goal can make a big difference. Ask friends and family to join you. Their companionship will hold you accountable and help you to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness.
Set up a new schedule for yourself. Reimagine your days now that you are in charge. Leave room for spontaneous activities but plan consistent, predictable touch points during the day that keep you anchored to the ebbs and flows of your new lifestyle.
One step at a time
It’s important to recognize that retirement, like most phases of life, has set stages. Eventually, as you work through them, you’ll begin to enjoy your new lifestyle and all that goes with being retired!
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