Five top stressors in retirement and how to cope

Five top stressors in retirement and how to cope

Replace worries over health, money, lost friendships by nurturing relationships. TV, couch, refrigerator should be less important than sport shoes, books, people

Retirement isn't always a walk on the beach, but there are strategies for reducing the stress of living without work

Although some research suggests that retirees experience less stress than when they were working, a lot depends on the person, experts say.

Stress in retirement is linked to health and financial status, says geriatric expert Richard Schulz, director of the University of Pittsburgh Centre 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.

“Involuntary retirement — due to health problems, downsizing, being fired — is associated with a more negative retirement experience,” he says.

It’s important to deal with these things because your chances of a heart attack, stroke, cancer or early death are lower if you have less stress, says Amit Sood, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. And author of the Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living

Here are five common retirement stresses and ways to cope with them:

1. Financial concerns. Many retirees experience stress from living on a fixed income, says Steve Brody, a psychologist who works with retirees. Beware of “awfulizing and catastrophizing your situation,” Brody says. 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.”

2. Health worries. Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and getting preventive care, Sood says. Don’t become overly focused on your health. Play the hand you have.

3. Caregiving. You may have to deal with a sick spouse, parent or other relative, Schulz says. This stress tends to accumulate and affects the health and functioning of the retiree. The No. 1 strategy is getting help from relatives, friends and professionals, Schulz says.

4. Relationship issues. Reconcile differences with your spouse. Work on forgiveness. You don’t want to close your life with lots of hurts, Sood says. “The magic of retirement is having the time to nurture relationships.”

One of 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 says.

Adds Brody: Adult children have a lot going on in their lives. Being aware of that can be help you adjust your expectations so you don’t end up nagging them or getting depressed over not seeing them enough.

5. Supercharged 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. Your brain’s reward centre 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.”

Brody says three keys to a successful retirement are finding a sense of purpose, 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.

Nurture your spiritual values, which may mean developing a deeper connection with your faith, Sood says. “Live your life fully, and say your ‘I love you’ every day.” Most importantly, do not postpone joy and do not bypass kindness.”


Source: The Star