By the time your retirement happens, you may be content with the idea of spending days in relaxation and doing the things that make you happy. While those are obviously important, it’s also necessary to focus on your long-term wellness. As we age, our immune systems change and don’t work as efficiently as they once did; this means we need to put in the effort to remain active, engaged with others, and emotionally/spiritually balanced.
To help you stay active and maintain your wellness after retirement, here are a few tips you can make use of.
Hit the hay!
It might seem counterintuitive to suggest sleeping to stay fit, but a good night’s rest can be truly restorative and is key to maintaining healthy cognitive function, emotional wellbeing, and good physical health. The National Institute on Aging recommends older adults to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night to stay in tip-top shape.
Pick up some new skills
Learning new skills has been shown to improve cognitive function, and even something like learning how to use Facebook can make a significant difference in mental performance, such as maintaining memory. Retirement may also be the right time to pick up new hobbies or outdoor-related skills, keeping you sharp, engaged, and physically fit (depending on the activity).
Maintain social connections—and build new ones
Staying connected can be key to your overall wellness in retirement. Now that you’ve left the workforce, it’s easy for those relationships to dissolve; but there’s a lot you can do to maintain strong ties to those around you and foster new relationships. Retirees are especially susceptible to depression and social isolation. You can stay connected by planning social engagements, continuing your worship/spiritual habits, or by joining others in mind-stimulating activities. These activities can keep you mentally sharp and socially engaged, contributing to better mental and emotional wellbeing.
Get into landscaping or start your own backyard garden
If you’re retiring at home or in a community where this is feasible, taking care of your own landscaping is a great way to stay active and invested in things. Landscaping can be a fantastic aerobic exercise, as well as a way to maintain your self-reliance. Mowing your yard is a simple task but it’s one that can have lasting benefits for retirees.
Keeping with the theme of yard work, nothing spruces up the outdoors like your very own garden. Not only can you use the opportunity to plant your favorite flowers—or health, organic fruits and vegetables—but putting in the work of planting and tending to the garden also helps you stay active.
Volunteer your time for a good cause or community project
Getting out of your house and being active is the goal, so why not check the local community bulletin boards, libraries, museums, or animal shelters? Whether it’s a paid position or not, you’ll be getting out, doing something productive, and socializing—all of which can help in maintaining your wellness during retirement.
Plan to maintain your wellness—but don’t overdo it
Many retirees set out with grand, ambitious plans to exercise every day or do something to stay physically fit; but it’s important to do things at a pace you’re comfortable with. Exercise, a balanced diet, and healthy choices can all be part of a wellness plan—and even something like a weekly golf game can be enough to stay active. When you make a plan, you should be sure it’s something you can stick to long-term. Many retirees find that they’re just as sedentary after retirement, despite having any established plan in place for themselves.
It’s also never too late to quit smoking or kick other unhealthy habits. Keeping tabs on your drinking habits, which some retirees report increasing due to social drinking—is another proactive way to ensure you maintain good health throughout retirement. This is especially true for seniors who depend on medications
Keeping yourself healthy and physically fit doesn’t have to mean a grueling workout regimen. All it takes is mindfulness of your body’s needs and a willingness to see to your continued wellness. It also requires you to rethink what ‘staying active’ means. Building new relationships and pursuing meaningful activities can contribute to good health just as much as exercise can. When you find the retirement community right for you, be sure that it can help you stay active as well.