When you retire from work, you retire from pressure, stress, and dull meetings. However, there is one important thing that you leave behind: human contact. While you may not consider most of your colleagues good friends, just being around people every day provides a certain degree of socialization that you will miss once retired. Loneliness can have a detrimental impact on one’s well-being.
Loneliness isn’t just an emotional state of feeling disconnected. More and more, researchers believe that loneliness has an impact not only on mental health, but physical well-being. People who feel lonely and are socially isolated were up to 32 percent more likely to die early, according to a 2015 meta-analysis. The study found that feeling lonely heightens the risk for heart disease by 29% and a stroke by 32%. Loneliness has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
While you work, social contact happens naturally. After you retire, there are plenty of ways to be socially engaged, but it takes a little more effort on your part. Here are five ways to stay socially active to help prevent loneliness:
- Take up some classes: Do you have hobbies that you enjoy? Now it is time to act on them. Whether it be a cooking or dance class, you are bound to meet people of similar interests and passions. In addition, many universities allow people ages 60 and over to audit courses to free. It’s never too late to learn how to code or excel at advanced mathematics.
- Join or Organize a Club: A book club or restaurant-of-the-week club will provide mental and social stimulation. Check the calendar at the local community center or visit meetup.com to see what groups you should join next.
- Get Healthy: Whenever you are feeling down, one of the best remedies is to get physically active. Even if it is only a walk around the block, taking the time to get fresh air and soak up mother nature will do wonders for you.
- Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and add some culture t your life. There are always a ton of events going on around your community. Find organizations that you are interested in and see how you can help. You can become a mentor for young students or a tour guide at your local museum. The possibilities are endless.
- Engage with others: Take the time to reach out to some family and friends. Pickup the phone and call someone. Airing out your thoughts and feelings can be relaxing. Cultivate these relationships and let them flourish. If you have family or friends in town, make some plans so you all can enjoy quality time together.
Loneliness does not need to be a part of your retirement process. With some time and effort, you can discover a variety of physical pursuits, mentally stimulating activities, and fulfilling moments that involve meaningful interaction with other people.
Anthony Ogorek, CFP®, Ed D.