The popular image of retirement promises freedom and relaxation. Unburdened of work, you should be looking forward to exploring your hobbies and more time with family. Right?
Sadly, however, stress in retirement has become increasingly common. It’s not always the idyll it’s painted to be and pensioners can struggle for a number of different reasons. In fact, a study released last May found that, for many, retirement can be just as stressful as working.
If this sounds familiar, there may be strategies that can help you improve the situation, whatever the cause, such as;
Loneliness or isolation
Worry about others
Social interaction is important. According to anxiety charity Calm Clinic, isolation and loneliness can be both a cause and a symptom of anxiety. And it’s a problem that can often worsen itself. If you’re suffering, try these remedies.
Talk to friends and family. If you’ve been feeling distant, make an effort to spend more time with the people you already know. It doesn’t matter how many people you get in touch with so long as the relationships you nurture are positive ones.
Find a social hobby. This might include a reading group, religious meetings, joining a club such as the golf club or a walking group, volunteering – whatever might appeal to you and your interests. Search for these online, or by visiting your local community centre or library.
Connect online. If you’re not that mobile or simply prefer to meet others at your own pace, Internet forums are a good way to talk to those with similar interests. The Gransnet forum might be a good place to start (of course, grandfathers are welcome too). Even if you’re not a grandparent, there’s plenty to join in on and discuss.
A problem shared… If you’re lucky enough to have a close network of family and friends, don’t be afraid to discuss what’s creating your stress with them. Whether they offer a fresh perspective or just a friendly ear, their support may relieve some pressure.
We typically associate stress with overwork, so it can be a surprise to discover that lack of activity leads to exhaustion too. However, studies show that inactivity can cause mental strain – something you might be unlucky enough to know from experience.
Leaving work is a huge life change. It can very easily lead to boredom if you don’t know what you want to do with the time you’ve now gained. Many choose to volunteer, take up a sport, hobby, or even a new job. If you have the money for it then you could also consider travel.
A big source of stress in retirement can be worries about loved ones; children and grandchildren in particular. But supporting them can also be emotionally draining. Alternatively, you may be too far away to offer support or that your advice is not being listened to.
If you find yourself in this situation, try to share your worries with somebody removed from the situation. They may be able to give you a fresh perspective or simply act as a sounding board. Here, online forums where you can speak to others who have been in the similar situation can be very helpful. Again, Gransnet could be a useful choice.
If money is the cause of your worries, there are a range of options open to you. But it’s always good to talk to the experts. This might include the Money Advice Service, the National Debtline or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Once you’ve talked it through, you might want to consider downsizing and taking the excess money from your house sale to supplement your income. You could also consider taking on a new job – perhaps starting an entirely new career.
Equity release is a popular alternative that allows you to release cash from your home without moving. It’s our area of expertise. You can learn more about equity release here and, if you are considering it, make sure you read ‘Is it right for you?’ carefully.
Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. The most popular type of equity release plan is a lifetime mortgage, which is secured against your home.