A good financial plan will help you to stay on track to meet your long-term goals, as you navigate your way through life towards your eventual retirement. The aim is that when that day comes, you’ll be in a position to live the kind of lifestyle you desire.
It can be easy to focus on the financial aspects of your retirement and lose track of what that life will actually entail. After possibly spending decades of your life working on your career, you might find yourself a little lost when your days are suddenly filled with free time.
One of the many lessons we can learn from the world’s “blue zones”, the regions in which people have the longest life expectancies and tend to live healthy, active lives throughout their 80s and 90s, is the concept of “purpose”.
This notion takes many forms. In two of the blue zones, they have words that conceptualise this idea. In Nicoya they call it “plan de vida” and in Okinawa “ikagai”, both roughly translating as “why I wake up in the morning”.
Having a positive mindset and things to do with your days can benefit your emotional wellbeing during retirement and potentially even extend your life.
Read on to discover five ways you can keep yourself active in both mind and body, and ensure you get the most out of your retirement years.
1. Become a leader in your local community
Loneliness has been shown to cut up to eight years from someone’s life expectancy. Taking an active role in your local community can do wonders for your health and emotional wellbeing.
You can not only leave your mark on other people’s lives and build upon your legacy, but also foster new connections and friendships that might open up all sorts of new avenues of interest for you to pursue during your retirement.
Community engagement can take up many forms. You might decide to help with programmes for young people, coach a sports team, help with a charity, or support efforts to revitalise your local area.
2. Take the time to exercise your mind and body
As part of continuing globalisation, Asian exercise and mindfulness concepts have slowly filtered over to the West.
You will probably be familiar with yoga, meditation, and perhaps even Tai Chi. Once seen as hobbies of the free-spirited fringes of society, they have increasingly become more and more mainstream.
The benefits of these activities aren’t just physical, but also mental. They can stretch out your body, improve your muscular flexibility, strengthen your breathing, and help you find inner calm.
Stress is well-known to be one of the leading contributors to heart disease and other life-threatening ailments. Staying active in a way that not only keeps your body healthy but also your mind could add years onto your life.
3. Unleash your inner “green fingers” and adopt gardening as part of your daily routine
The blue zones teach us many lessons about how to go about later life. In all five of these regions, exercise is built into their daily routines, rather than as a dedicated goal.
They typically don’t play physical sports or hit the gym on a daily basis, instead they allow physical activity to naturally feature throughout their days.
One of the ways they do this is by tending to their land. Gardening not only keeps your body active as you shovel, water, plant, and oversee your grounds, but can also benefit your diet and your mind.
Fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs can do wonders for your diet, so why not consider growing them yourself in your backyard?
You can also unwind your mind as you zone out, and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature.
4. Consider embracing your creative side and taking up an artistic hobby
According to AgeUK, one of the many unexpected outcomes of retirement is the sudden loss of identity. You might find yourself feeling emotionally drained, isolated, and unsure of how to fill your time.
Picking up a creative hobby could be a potential solution. It might not have been something you considered in the past, but opting to paint, write poetry, take up photography, learn an instrument or get involved in acting, can all have benefits for your mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation champions arts as a way for people, especially those later in life, to overcome issues of isolation, rebuild social connections, improve their mood and wellbeing, and quell issues like anxiety and depression.
You don’t have to discover your inner Van Gogh or Brando and you don’t have to be fantastic at what you opt to do. Simply taking the time to switch off and pursue something creative can help your mind stay active and healthy.
5. Reflect on your life and write down your story
The idea of writing your memoirs, might seem a bit cheesy or pretentious, but it can be an excellent way of both acknowledging all your achievements and successes in life as well as allowing you moments to reflect on your favourite memories.
The exercise helps keep your mind active and can help when tackling later-life memory-related illnesses. It is also an opportunity for you to share your story with your loved ones and descendants.
You don’t need to write your magnum opus and seek out a publishing deal. You can simply use it as a means for your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to get to know you better and not be left with any lingering questions about your life once you’re gone.