Many of us have an image of how retirement is supposed to be: You’re free! No boss to answer to, no schedule to keep, no demands upon you. In short, retirement equals no stress, right? But the reality is that some retirees report they still have stress after they leave their jobs.
So what gives? Why are retirees feeling stress in a time when they should be feeling footloose and fancy-free? Here are four stressors you may want to be aware of as you approach retirement:
- Financial concerns. According to a survey conducted by TransAmerica, outliving savings and investments is the No. 1 retirement concern of most Americans. The idea of living on a fixed income can create a sense of stress for many people, especially those who feel they haven’t saved enough during their working years.
- Health concerns. Health insurance provider Aetna reports that more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition. These conditions may require expensive prescriptions or frequent visits to a health care provider.
- Changes in identity. Leaving a job is a major life change, even if you’re looking forward to retirement. For many of us, our jobs are a big part of our identity. Some people make an easy transition into retirement, but others might experience anxiety, depression and a feeling of loss.
- Caring for aging parents and spouses. Retirees may have to assume the role of caregiver for parents and/or spouses. While caring for a loved one can reap great rewards, it can also create continuing stress for the caregiver, especially if it spans several years or the caregiver is not receiving help or guidance from friends, relatives or medical professionals.
Tips to Help Avoid Retirement Stress
While it is not inevitable that you’ll experience stress during retirement, here are three tips to help ward off retirement stress before it happens:
Have a game plan. Many people head off into retirement with little thought of how they’ll fill their days. It’s important to take stock before you retire, to create a game plan. What does retirement look like to you? Is it volunteering? Time with family? Travel? It’s a great idea to go into retirement with a plan for what you might like to try or accomplish during this time.
Take care of your health. Obviously, not all health conditions are avoidable. However, taking a proactive approach to your health and lifestyle choices can help provide you with a healthier outlook throughout your retirement years. You don’t have to make major changes all at once: Start with physical activity and eating healthier.
Build your relationships. Many people find it harder to maintain social connections during retirement, especially if they worked in an environment where they naturally connected with a wide variety of people. You may need to reach out to new social groups or become involved with new organizations.