More often than not, people highly anticipate all the benefits that retirement has to offer, especially the extra time and freedom to do as they please once their focus is no longer on their career. For some, this is a time of great joy, but for others, it may lead to unexpected emotions – especially for those who may be retiring earlier than planned due to an unexpected event such as organizational downsizing or a health condition. No matter what the scenario is, the reality of retirement might not meet the expectations that you had during your working years, which can lead to what is known as sudden retirement syndrome.
Sudden retirement syndrome is caused by the shock of transitioning to a new normal – a more relaxing lifestyle after remaining busy with work and your professional life. Although we may know a change or retirement is coming, we may not exactly be prepared to stop working or to slow down.
Consider how it feels to be deep in thought, running on a treadmill that simply stops because you hit your maximum workout time. You may know your workout is over, but your body and mind take a bit of time to catch up and slow down. This is precisely how adjusting to retirement or the end of a career feels for some people.
The abrupt changes of retirement can cause older adults to feel sadness, anxiety or even lack of creativity. They may be diagnosed with clinical depression after retiring, experience feelings of emptiness, or deal with other mental health issues. If retirement was an unexpected event, seniors may feel anger, resentment and a loss of purpose and identity.
The good news is that with the right information, mindset and plan, your sense of purpose and life satisfaction don’t have to diminish with retirement. Instead, you can enjoy the retirement you’ve always dreamed of, overcoming sudden retirement syndrome and aging gracefully.
- You can set your own schedule
- You’ll have more freedom to visit family members and friends
- You will be able to pick up passions you may have let fall by the wayside
- You can give back or continue your pursuit of lifelong learning
- You’ll have time to spend on yourself again
We all know that exercise can improve your mood as well as your health, so if you find yourself unsure of what to do in retirement, or how you can get rid of sudden retirement syndrome, focus on a little fitness!
- Go on daily walks
- Join a fitness class or group for some extra socialization
- Hire a personal trainer to focus on your specific goals
- Practice meditation, tai chi or yoga
Hobbies can make you happy, fill your heart with joy, and even help you age well. If you’re experiencing sudden retirement syndrome, hobbies and passions are a great way to thwart it.
- Take up gardening
- Start a band
- Lean into your cooking skills
- Learn a new language
- Travel and find new things to do within your local area
All the extra free time you have in retirement gives you an opportunity to find a new purpose or set new goals. Consider:
- Finding a fulfilling post-retirement part-time job
- Spending time volunteering
- Joining a committee and obtaining a leadership role
- Visiting with those in elder care or visiting pet shelters
All of these things can help give you a feeling of purpose or help you feel like you’re making a difference.
Staying social can help you keep sudden retirement syndrome at bay. Not only will you feel more connected and less lonely, but it can help decrease the negative mental health symptoms of isolation and retirement syndrome.
- Join a sporting league
- Host weekly trivia nights
- Join a social group
- Attend book club meetings
- Get involved within the community
One of the best ways to beat sudden retirement syndrome is to have something to retire to, or something to look forward to. For many older adults, this is a senior living community.
Why is this? For one, there are plenty of perks of senior living, like freedom from housekeeping, home maintenance, yard work and cooking. Instead of worrying about those daily tasks, you can create your own daily structure, find your new purpose with engaging programs, focus on improving all aspects of wellness, and socialize with other like-minded individuals.