Retirement -- such an idyllic concept! Sleeping in, traveling, working on hobbies! But then reality sets in. Your local church sees you as a new source of service: teaching, preaching, filling church offices. Often a retiree has just moved, so there's the process of setting up a new home, unpacking boxes and rearranging your precious cargo. And the list goes on...
Many retirees hold on to some form of part-time work, either with their former employer or in a related field. So, the age-old adage of "How did I ever have time to work?" holds true for many people in retirement. This however is not always the case.
Some people view retirement as being "put out to pasture" and no longer truly valuable". That picture evokes images of indolence and depression. A colleague stopped by my house about two months into my retirement, and his first question was, "Are you depressed yet?" His view of retirement was very different from my reality.
Even though I have much to keep me busy, active, and contributing in retirement, I realize that isn't true for everyone. For some, their career and jobs pretty much filled their lives, and in retirement, the days loom long and lifeless. So here are a few tips on how not to be depressed, bored, or lonely in retirement:
3. Work or volunteer part-time to ease into the retirement world. If you have been in an administrative position or another more-then-full-time position or another inside or outside the church, don't step off the cliff and go from 1,000 miles per hour to nothing.
4. Begin early to focus on hobbies or pastimes such as working out, walking, photography, sewing, etc. Then make those pursuits a priority.
5. Build relationships within your community. Volunteer to read to young people at the library; train your dog as a therapy dog and visit nursing homes; be a friend to your neighbors and become a "light" in your neighborhood.
6. Set goals and find ways to accomplish them. Don't let retirement be engulfed with the immediate. Plan ahead for events, activities, and projects that are fulfilling.
7. Learn to say "no"! Don't allow other people's self-created emergencies to become yours. That is not to say we shouldn't be helpful and considerate of other people's needs. All of us at one time or another have self-created emergencies. But don't allow that to become overwhelming and all-encompassing.
8. Take care of your health! Walk, exercise, focus on a healthful diet, and drink lots of water -- in other words, follow good health principles. Now we have more time to care for ourselves and our families.
At one of my retirement parties, a well-meaning person came up to me and with complete seriousness said, "There are stages in life. You are born, you go to school, you get a career, you establish a family, you retire, and you die. You only have one stage left." Then he turned and walked away.
Don't focus on the last stage; focus instead on making retirement one more stage in a fulfilled and Christ-centered life! You still have much to give to your church, your family, and your community. Ask God to help you to continue to live each day to the full.
This article was modified from an article by Larry Blacker, a retired administrator.
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