Wellness after work

  • Man and woman jogging by a lake

We ask an expert in retirement wellbeing to share his tips for a happy and well-adjusted retirement.

Whether you sail in smoothly or have to stop work suddenly: retirement is a big change.

Psychologist and author Humphrey Armstrong has spent years researching what it really takes to fully enjoy life after work – and some of his findings might surprise you.

So what are Humphrey’s tips for making the most of your best years, no matter what your situation?

A sense of control

'Your ability to turn setbacks into opportunities, to be a creative opportunity-finder and problem-solver, and your willingness to keep learning and adapting is key,' Humphrey says.

Sources of identity beyond work

'If you have been intensively involved in your work over many years, a large part of your identity may have been derived from your job. If this sounds like you, the next tip may hold the answer.'

Strong and diverse social supports

'Social isolation is becoming one of the emerging problems of high-rise city living, especially for single retirees compared with the rich social life of living and retiring in a small country town or village-style neighbourhood.

'Having a close supportive family and group of friends is key to building up the resilience to manage health challenges and other setbacks, like not being able to drive, that come as we transition through our eighties.'
 
Keeping active, fit and healthy

'This has also been shown to greatly contribute to our mind and memory functioning. Now is the time to build regular exercise, from walking to swimming or playing golf or tennis, into your day.'

Purposeful activities

'Having meaningful things to do is not only something to personally look forward to, but has a secondary benefit of creating, building or providing a service for others. Examples include volunteering to help build and set up a community garden or cook for a social gathering. Unlike routine chores, purposeful activities have been shown to prevent feelings of meaninglessness and depression.'

Having someone (or something) to love

'From grandchildren to a pet, having someone special in your life can keep you connected and fulfilled.'

Having something to look forward to

'This could be as simple as catching up with a friend or as exciting as an overseas holiday.'

'Clearly, having enough income and a place to call home is vitally important, but there are also many financially well-off people who really struggle with boredom and depression in their senior years. Equally, there are many living off meagre financial resources who enjoy amazingly connected, creative and contented lives.'

Psychologist and author Humphrey Armstrong

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