3 simple ways to ease the emotional impact of retirement

November 9, 2022

You might be looking forward to retirement because of the free time it will afford you to finally do the things you’ve always wanted to spend more time doing.

Whether it’s socialising with friends, taking up new hobbies, travelling the world, or taking the time to relax without the stresses and strains of working life, there’s lots of ways you can enjoy your post-work years.

But for some, retirement isn’t quite the carefree experience they had envisaged. Such a major life change can be stressful and uncomfortable, especially if you felt that your personal identity was deeply rooted in your career or trade.

That’s why retirement planning isn’t just about money. It should also factor in your emotional and mental wellbeing as well.

Having looked forward to it and saved throughout your career, how can you ensure that you realise your retirement goals and remain physically and mentally healthy for as long as possible?

Major life changes like retirement could trigger feelings of stress or anxiety

There are several reasons the transition from working life to retirement could feel stressful for you.

· If your trade or profession conveyed a sense of identity, you might feel lost without this in your life.

· Work may have formed a large part of your social life, leaving you feeling isolated or lonely when you no longer go there every day.

· Without the 9-5 structure to your day, it might feel daunting to fill so many hours with new, meaningful tasks.

So even though many view retirement as offering a new lease of life, it’s not unusual to experience difficult emotions during the transition. In fact, your brain is wired to look for the negatives whenever big changes occur, as this is how it keeps you safe from danger.  

So how can you reframe this shift in lifestyle as something positive and embrace the changes it brings?

View retirement as something that evolves

Before taking any action, the first thing you can do is to acknowledge that you are likely to experience lots of different emotions, particularly during the first few years of your retirement. Even so-called negative emotions are not always a bad thing. It may simply be a case of reframing the situation in a more positive light.

Remember that your retirement will likely consist of many chapters. The things that you enjoy doing in the first few years of your retirement might not be what you want to do five or 10 years later.

So, your feelings and emotions are likely to evolve as your retirement progresses. In other words, if things are feeling stressful or difficult now, those feelings may pass, hopefully becoming more positive emotions in the future.

If you feel that you may benefit from seeking external help for your mental health, Samaritans of Singapore and the Institute of Mental Health offer a range of support services.

3 ways you could ease the emotional impact of retirement

1. Decide on a project or purpose

If you have always defined yourself by what you do for a living – for example a teacher, doctor, or architect – when this is removed it can trigger uncertainty about your identity and purpose.

It could be helpful to find a project or purpose to work towards. This will create meaningful tasks for you to complete and will provide something new for you to align yourself with.

There are lots of ways to do this. Perhaps you could volunteer with a local charity or youth group, or learn a new skill? Reflect on which topics have always been of interest but that you haven’t had the time to pursue because of your working hours in the past.

2. Keep your social circle

Loneliness is an increasing problem among retirees. Age UK predicts that by 2026 there will be 2 million people over 50 in England who will often feel lonely.

By proactively keeping in touch with your work colleagues after retirement, you can continue to experience a healthy social life with old friends. Spending time with familiar faces means retirement need not feel like such a drastic change to your life.

It may also help to seek out new groups to spend time with. Finding others who share an interest in your favourite hobby or who live locally could provide a new circle of friends to ensure you continue to spend time with others socially.  

3. Consider phased retirement

Nowadays, retirement doesn’t have to start all in one go as it used to in the past. Phased retirement is becoming more and more popular because it helps to reduce financial worries and also allows you to ease yourself into this new lifestyle.

There are several different ways you could phase into retirement. You could:

· Reduce the hours you work at your current job

· Take a new part-time job

· Set up your own business or work as an independent consultant.

Read more about phased retirement and what it could look like for you on our website.

Create a plan to ensure your finances are in order

Once you’ve thought about the different options available to you and decided what you want your retirement to look like, it’s time to speak to your financial planner.

They will be able to help you understand how much income you are likely to need to fund the lifestyle you would like and put a plan together to help you achieve that.

By having a plan, you can feel confident that whatever emotions you feel about moving into retirement, money worries need not be one of them.

Get in touch

If you would like some advice about how to plan a joyful and exciting transition into your post-work years, we can help. Either contact your financial planner directly, email us at hello@ascentawealth.com or fill in our online contact form to organise a meeting and we’ll get in touch.