Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. – John F. Kenedy
Change can be good or bad but the determinant factor is one’s attitude towards it. Some change is inevitable like aging; while certain people look at it with fear, some with a spirit of gratitude of a life well lived. One event that definitely accompanies growing older is retiring from one’s job. The majority of the people today spend the maximum time in an office or in one’s own business, working 10 to 12 hours. Therefore, suddenly finding oneself without work can seem distressing. Even if one is mentally prepared for it, when the actual time one may not want to let go of this way of life easily.
In certain cases, in the beginning, the person may feel happy and excited looking forward to spending time with family and friends or engaging in hobbies one couldn’t earlier. But, as the time approaches, the person may become anxious or depressed or may find that everyone else seems busier than them. At such times the person may start wishing that they could go back to work. Such feelings can trigger depression or anxiety. Experiencing such emotions is a sign of retirement blues.
Dealing with retirement blues
Feeling the retirement blues is normal. But, if ignored, these can lead to the mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. To avoid this it is important for a person to understand that retirement is like any other life process and a transition to a different phase of life. Therefore, one should take each day at a time and accept this change making the best of it.
There are a number of ways that can help one beat the retirement blues and lead a healthy life. Here are some of them:
1. Stay active: Keeping oneself engaged and active is important to cope with retirement blues as well as to continue leading a healthy life. Activities such as exercising, brisk walking and yoga or indulging in hobbies such as gardening, traveling, sports or painting are not only important for good physical health but also for sound mental health.
2. Stay connected: Retirement should not imply an end to one’s social life. A person should continue meeting his/her friends, engage in social activities and maintain their social network to ensure that they are happy and satisfied with their present life. These social circles also present an opportunity to vent out one’s feelings or enjoy activities with like-minded individuals.
3. Plan the day: Transitioning from a busy professional life into a life after retirement can be full of questions and stressful. One might find it difficult to understand the exact way he/she should spend the day, the activities to engage in, and thus, might feel depressed or agitated.
To avoid such a situation, it is best for a person to plan his/her day in advance. Structuring the day and scheduling activities such as exercise, housework, rest, social time or participating in community events can help him/her lead a productive life even after retirement.
4. Give back something meaningful: Retirement makes a lot of free time available which an individual can use to get involved in activities a person once wished to. With a lot of spare time to spend on things he/she likes, one can get engaged in activities that are fruitful and meaningful to the society as a whole.
If one wishes to give something back to the society, the possibilities are many, such as tutoring kids at a school, walking dogs at the local humane society, etc. Engaging oneself in such activities not only keeps one busy but also offers him/her a chance to pass the time while building social connections.
5. Reinvent: It is important for a person to be open to change. One should be willing to have a fresh perspective towards everything in life, surroundings, etc. Doing so will not only help the person in forming a new public image but will also allow him/her to move out of one’s comfort zone and have new experiences in life.
The bottom line
It is important to realize that developing mental illnesses during old age is not a normal part of aging. Mental illnesses can have several triggers and one of those can be retirement.
Therefore, as part of the Older Americans Month, which is being observed throughout May, let us honor our elders by acknowledging their contributions and caring for them. We should also take this opportunity to spread the message that it’s important to seek help in case one experiences any mental illnesses.
If you know any older Americans dealing with any form of mental illness and want to connect with the mental health treatment centers in Los Angeles, Sovereign Health can help. We offer focused residential mental health treatment for men aged between 45 and 60 years of age through our Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences (PRIME) program.
Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for more information about the program. You can even chat online with one of our experts who can assist you in finding the best mental health facilities in Los Angeles.