Mental health in retirement

Looking after your mental health in retirement

Like other major life changes - such as marriage, the arrival of children, buying a house or a new job - retirement can contribute to feelings of stress.

It is a time when previous daily and weekly structures, routines and habits are changed dramatically. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge that you've earned the right to have more time for yourself. For some people this is a great relief but for many it is quite naturally and understandably, a time of nervousness or sadness. This may be especially true if you are missing your old work routine and social networks. Therefore, in planning for, and during retirement, it is important to think about your mental health.

Staying mentally healthy during retirement

Mental health is influenced by many factors, including physical exercise, diet, life stages and social and economic factors. Maintaining good mental health will lead to a more fulfilling retirement. Below are some tips and hints on how to maintain good mental health in planning for and during retirement.

  • Your mind

Keeping your mind active and engaged is a great way to maintain good mental health. Continuing with your existing non-work activities is a great and easy way to keep your mind active. Also, consider taking up a new hobby, enrolling in a short course, joining a local card playing or book club, or consider practicing yoga or meditation. It is also important to take time out to relax, as relaxation is essential for managing stress and maintaining good health.

  • Your body

Staying physically fit provides a wide range of benefits. When we look after our physical health, we feel better too – fitter, more relaxed and better able to cope with things. Regular exercise can lift your mood and help you feel better, and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes; lower high blood pressure; weight control; improve brain function and feeling of wellbeing. Keeping physically active isn’t restricted to playing sport or going to the gym – it can be as simple as using the stairs when you can, walk or ride a bike to your destination or choosing a car park that is further away from your destination and walking some of the distance. 

  • Your diet

Healthy eating requires a balanced diet to help you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as reduce your risk of chronic disease. Try to avoid foods that contain lots of fat, salt, and/or added sugar and limit alcohol consumption. If you’re in doubt about what the right diet is for you, it is always a good idea to talk to a dietitian, your doctor, or other trusted medical practitioner.

  • Your social activities

It is important to stay connected to friends and family during retirement to minimise feelings of isolation. Finding what you love to do with people you enjoy spending time with is one of the great opportunities in retirement. Consider joining a bush-walking club, chess group, book club, volunteer at a local community group, go on a guided holiday, or participate in cultural activities like going to the theatre or museum.

Worried about your mental health?

If you are concerned about your mental health, or the health of someone you know, it is always important to discuss these feelings with someone you trust and a medical practitioner. If you start to feel isolated or alone, it is important to seek help. Everyone responds differently, and feels differently about retirement and seeking help at an early stage can make managing these feelings easier in the future.

SuperFriend offers a ‘Planning for a mentally healthy retirement’ workshop that provides you with a range of great information, resources and practical tips to help you stay mentally healthy during retirement. For more information on how you can attend a workshop, please contact your fund representative.

Listed below are some resources that can also help you ensure you enjoy a mentally healthy retirement.