People who find happiness in their retirement years usually adopt these 9 daily rituals

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Retirement is something many people look forward to. But it represents a major change in lifestyle that can be tricky to manage.

And all too often, the loss of purpose that comes with leaving the workforce can lead people to unhappiness, boredom, and depression.

Managing a happy retirement is tricky. But like any time of change you encounter in life, what often pulls you through are your daily habits and rituals.

In other words, if you want to be happy in your retirement, practice these daily activities. Because if you manage it right, retirement can be one of the best times of your life.

1) Physical activity

If you’re at or near retirement age, you probably don’t need me to give you another lecture on getting enough exercise.

But I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s so important. In fact, few things have a bigger impact on the quality of your life than staying in shape.

That’s true at any age. But as we age, our bodies tend to develop new problems, and a sedentary lifestyle can make many of those problems far worse than they need to be.

If you never had time for exercise before, now’s your chance. And if you’ve always been someone who regularly exercises, don’t let that beneficial habit slip now that you’re retired.

If you don’t have your health, your ability to enjoy your retirement is going to be severely impacted. Luckily, you don’t have to run marathons. Something as simple as a gentle daily walk can help to keep you in good shape so you can enjoy your golden years.

2) Healthy eating

Just like exercise, you already know you should be eating healthy food. That means a wide range of food that isn’t overly processed, with fresh produce making up most of your diet.

We all know this. But it’s easy to slip into bad habits. After all, you’ve worked all your life to get here, and you want to enjoy your retirement. It’s hard to resist the temptation to eat whatever you like.

One of the greatest gifts of retirement is all the additional time it gives you. Chances are, you now have more time than ever to focus on the food you eat and make sure it’s both nutritious and delicious. You have the time to pick up new recipes and shop for the very best ingredients.

Healthy eating is important at any stage of life, and that doesn’t change just because you retire. What does change is that you now have the time to focus on your food so you can stay active and healthy in your retirement. 

3) Pursuing hobbies

Maybe you’ve always been the type of person who enjoys lots of hobbies. Or maybe you never had the time while you were working to pursue what interested you.

Well, now you do.

Lots of people allow work to define them. Then, when they retire, they don’t know what to do with themselves.

Pursuing rewarding hobbies can help with that loss of purpose. Plus, picking up a new hobby can help to keep your brain sharp or help you get more exercise if it’s something active.

In retirement, you probably have more time on your hands than you’ve ever had before in your life. If you’re not careful, that ocean of time can become boring and stale.

Hobbies help to prevent that. They also help you stay active, learn new things, and can help you meet new people – all of which are important for enjoying a fulfilling retirement.

4) Socializing

Loneliness is a major problem in old age.

Studies suggest that a quarter of adults age 65 and older in the US are considered socially isolated. And this isolation can have several negative effects, including:

  • Increased risk of dementia;
  • Higher risk of heart disease;
  • Poorer mental health including high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide;
  • Increased risk of premature death from all causes.

In fact, social isolation may be as dangerous as smoking or obesity.

If most of your friends were connected to your working life, you may lose a lot of social interaction when you retire. Also, many friends may move away, and if you have children, they are likely busy with their own lives. That can make retirement a very lonely time.

It doesn’t have to be. Remember, you probably have more time than ever before to spend with friends.

Look for retiree associations near where you live to meet other people in the same boat. Or take up a new hobby that gets you to meet other people. Spending time with others is not only an enjoyable way to pass the time, but it can help you stay healthy, too.

5) Learning

It might sound strange to say, but retirement can be one of the best times to learn new things.

And unlike when you were in school or at work, now, you can learn whatever interests you the most.

Learning something new, whether it’s picking up a new language or discovering how to play a musical instrument, can be a great way to fill your time with an enjoyable activity, and can also help you meet new people.

However, there are other benefits, too.

“New brain cell growth can happen even late into adulthood,” says Ipsit Vahia, director of geriatric outpatient services at McLean Hospital. “The process of learning and acquiring new information and experiences, like through structured classes, can stimulate that process.”

In other words, learning something new in retirement can slow the cognitive decline that comes with aging and keep you mentally sharp.

Take a class. Use online videos to help you learn a new skill. However you do it, there are so many benefits to learning something new in retirement.

6) Volunteering

Work and raising a family sucks up so much of our time that it doesn’t leave much for anything else. However, in retirement, all that changes.

Volunteering for a cause that means something to you can be a great way to enjoy retirement. And like some of the other activities on this list, it can also help you meet new people and stay physically and mentally active.

But more than that, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose that many people lose when they stop working.

There are always charities looking for help. Whether it’s serving the homeless at the local soup kitchen, walking the dogs at an animal shelter, or creating petitions to affect social change, you’ll never run out of charities that need a helping hand.

7) Setting goals

Another mistake many people make when they retire is that they no longer set goals.

After all, now that you’re not working, it can feel as if you have no goals at all. There are no sales targets to hit, no deadlines to manage.

While that sounds relaxing, it can become boring. And having goals gives us a sense of purpose that motivates us to get up in the morning.

The difference is, now you’re no longer in the workforce, you need to set your own goals.

It can be something like planning a fun trip. It could be based around something you want to learn. It could be goals for your family, such as attending a graduation or wedding.

Setting goals for yourself gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of achievement. That’s vital to maintaining a healthy and happy retirement.

8) Staying grateful

Retirement can be one of the most wonderful times of your life, and it can also be one of the worst. After all, the increased risk of social isolation, the loss of friends and loved ones, plus the ever-present threat of health issues, can make our senior years extremely challenging.

That’s why it’s so important to stay grateful for everything you have.

After all, there’s always something to be grateful for. Whether it’s good weather, a great cup of coffee, or a tasty meal, life is full of little pleasures that are worth focusing on.

If you want, you can establish a daily gratitude practice where you write down everything you are feeling grateful for that day.

Or, you can just take a moment to reflect on everything you have that’s good in your life.

However you do it, practicing gratitude will help you stay happy in retirement by focusing on the good things.

9) Relaxing

Finally, after looking over this list, you may be feeling tired just thinking about all the things that are to do.

It’s important to stay busy during retirement. After all, you may have never had as much time on your hands as you do now. But it’s also important to remember why you retired in the first place.

Our energy levels decline with age, and that’s perfectly natural. So don’t forget to get some rest and relaxation, too.

There’s nothing wrong with staying at home sometimes, watching TV or reading a book. Make some time every day to simply relax and recharge your batteries, and you’ll have the energy to pursue all these other healthy activities in your retirement.

Enjoy your golden years

Retirement is what you make of it. For some people, it can be a period of declining health, loneliness, boredom, and a loss of purpose.

But it doesn’t have to be. The daily habits you cultivate define to a large extent how much you enjoy being retired.

So work some of these habits into your daily routine, and start enjoying what can be the best time of your life.

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