Everyone feels down from time to time, but it’s a sad fact that the ‘retirement blues’ can be a real issue for a lot of retirees. Research from Skipton Building Society found that eight in 10 women and over half of men often feel they have no purpose left in life since leaving employment.
Whether it’s feeling lonely, money worries, or a lack of self-esteem, there are things you can do to help yourself feel better – here are a few tips to put a spring back in your step.
1 – Get your walking shoes on
Walking 6,000 steps a day – about 3 miles – has proven health benefits, from keeping you healthy to improving your mood through exposure to sunshine (don’t laugh – we do get some occasionally) and fresh air. Get a pedometer or download an app to your phone and get active!
Retiresavvy blogger and personal fitness trainer Rosemary Mallace says: “Staying fit is the key to a happy retirement - more important, I would argue, than money. Keep track of your steps from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed and move more throughout the day.”
2 – Take up a hobby
It’s quite possible you could spend a third of your life in retirement, so your post-work years really are what you make of them. It can be a shock to the system to find you have so much time to yourself – taking up a hobby can provide a new circle of friends, new challenges and a sense of worth.
Anthony Black, retiresavvy blogger, says: “Retirement doesn’t have to signal the end of work. When I left my job as a deputy headteacher I began pursuing my passion for photography. It’s important that you have interests to pursue and enjoy, otherwise you might as well have carried on working.”
3 – Fight loneliness
Thinking you’ll be lonely is more likely to lead to actually being lonely. Researchers at Brunel University found people who expected to be lonely in later life were three times more likely to end up feeling alone. The message? Have a positive outlook, get out and make good things happen.
Christina Victor, Professor of Public Health at Brunel University London, says: “The link between age stereotypes and the experience of loneliness, with all its accompanying quality of life, health and social problems is highly significant.”
4 – Claim the benefits you deserve
Every penny helps, but according to Age UK, pensioners are missing out on claiming around £5.5bn of benefits each year. The charity found that around four in ten pensioners who are eligible for Pension Credit don’t claim it, while almost half don’t claim Council Tax Benefit.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: “People tell us what a huge difference the extra money makes. It’s a scandal that there are still so many older people living in poverty when billions of pounds in benefits are unclaimed.”
5 – Give something back
Volunteering in retirement is a great way to keep busy and give something back. Research from the Royal Voluntary Service found that over two million retirees volunteer for at least two charities - and that volunteers are less depressed, have a better quality of life and are happier.
David McCullough, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, says: "People believe that retirement is an opportunity to sit back and relax, but on the contrary; thousands of older people are committed to making a huge difference to the lives of others in their communities."
6 – Take some ‘you’ time
After spending a lifetime in work, retirement is your chance to relax and treat yourself – and don’t forget it! A survey of retirees by Senior Railcard found that half of those polled were “having more fun than ever” in retirement, with 70% saying they felt “a lot younger” since quitting work.
Andrew Robertson, marketing manager at Senior Railcard, says: “For so much of our lives we are restricted by our working hours. Adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s are determined to make the most of life in retirement and have no intention of slowing down.”
7 – Keep your mind active
Keeping your mind active is proven to help reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Organisations like University of the Third Age (U3A) offer courses (but no exams or grades – it’s learning for the sheer love of it) that will keep your brain on its toes – and get you meeting new people.
Barbara Lewis, former national chair of U3A, says: “When I retired, I sat on the sofa for a year catching up with my reading. Gradually, I thought: ‘What do I do next?’ I heard about the University of the Third Age and I jumped at it – and the experience changed my life.”
Do you ever feel down in retirement? What helps you feel better? Share your experiences and help others by commenting on the Forum.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.