Many of us over 60 have either “officially retired,” been laid off because of our age, or are not working in a traditional office. The reality is, retirement can be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Why retirement is hazardous to your health
You’re probably thinking, “What? That’s insane! What’s so dangerous about retirement? Other than tripping over the family dog, what could happen?”
1. You’re not thinking of retirement as a job.
Just because you’ve officially “retired” from a previous position, at the young age of 60 something doesn’t mean you should sit in a waiting room waiting to die like Beetlejuice.
Your life will hopefully go on for 30-40 more years. When you lose your sense of purpose and simply exist you’ll croak sooner, Playing golf all day is fun, but not exactly a purpose. Think of retirement as your new job or adventure. Unless you’re completely disabled, you can create a home based business, project, or work on a worthy cause, even if your objective is only to keep your mental juices flowing and stay in touch with the world.
2. Beware of sitting for long periods of time, especially in front of your computer.
This has been a particular challenge for me. In 2010, I created a home based business to help small business owners and Baby Boomers, like myself, set up and operate blogs. The trouble is; I became so involved in doing tedious tasks, that I ended up sitting in front of my computer all day long.
When you sit like a planted tulip, you put yourself in danger of back pain, blood clots, heart disease, diabetes. It will also make you fat. Exercising at a certain time every day isn’t enough. Make sure to stand up every 1/2 hour or so to stretch and move. Consider sitting on a stability ball instead of a chair so that your body remains active. I bought a high-end ergonomic chair that’s made it more comfortable to sit, but I still have to make sure to stand up, walk in the garden or take my doggies out for a walk.
Sitting and watching TV for hours at night is just as bad. Limit your TV viewing time to 2 hours or less per day. If you can watch it walking on a treadmill, doing yoga poses, or anything besides sitting on your butt.
3. Create balance in your life especially if you’re pursuing a new venture
When you work at an office, you have set hours. After quitting time, you go home and attend to your personal life. After retirement, you may find yourself either doing nothing or you spend 24 hours a day working on a new project.
I’ve had clients call me up and ask to fix their websites on the weekends or late in the evening. Some of them think I’m on call all day and night. I’ve found it’s important to set boundaries and pay attention to all the other aspects of my life during non-working hours.
The advantage of working from home is that you’re able to set your own hours. If you’re a morning lark, work only when the sun is still shining. If you’re a night owl, burn the midnight oil. Be diligent about setting regular times during the day or night to exercise, be with friends and family, socialize, eat, take care of your personal needs, commune with nature and connect with your higher power.
4. Don’t be tempted by the evil refrigerator.
I used to live in a big 2 story house with 5 bedrooms. My office looked out into the front yard and was away from the fridge. When we downsized, we moved into a much smaller mobile home. Now the refrigerator is directly in front of my desk causing me to stare at it all day long. If I’m not careful I’ll eat too many snacks. I make sure not to buy cookies, cakes, soda or any form of junk food so I won’t be tempted.
I have to make sure to stick to a regular snack schedule, If I didn’t, my head would be permanently planted in the fridge. Plus, if I feel stressed out I want to eat more. Emotional eating makes you fat. For a foodie like me, that’s a challenge.
5. Don’t isolate yourself.
It’s easy to become so involved with what you’re doing, or not doing, that you isolate yourself from the world. Make appointments to connect and network with real people in person. Lurking on Facebook all day long isn’t enough. One of the most important keys to quality longevity is social interaction. A hermit soon curls up and dies. People who maintain their social connections live longer and happier lives.
Join a group on meetup.com. It serves every interest group imaginable from business to pleasure and everything in-between. The worst thing a retired person can do is nothing.
Are you retired or thinking of retiring soon? What do you do to stay busy and active? Please leave a comment below and let’s chat.