Avoid emotional problems in retirement The Tonic

How to avoid the emotional pitfalls of retirement

So you’re looking forward to retirement, can’t wait to give up work. Are you sure it’s going to be what you imagine?

Do you think it’s going to be all sunshine and roses? Has it occurred to you that there may be emotional issues with retirement you aren’t expecting? Such as loneliness, boredom, feeling inadequate or useless… Read on. Avoid the emotional pitfalls of retirement.

Entering retirement is an exciting time. After planning your finances, perhaps moving to a smaller or bigger property, or resettling in an entirely new location, you want to get on and spend your time doing what you love.

But it’s not always as simple as that. Retiring is a big shift in life, and it can often be a struggle to get your head around it. After all, your daily routine and structure has suddenly completely changed.

It’s common to go through some negative feelings whilst adapting to the change of pace in your life, once you’ve retired. The trick is to not settle into the emotional pitfalls and avoid them as best you can.

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After years of working hard and having a busy life, having empty days can become boring and cause restlessness. Funny how much fun that sounds right now, right?

If boredom comes knocking, find things to do. All the cliches are there, but they’re there for a reason. Learn an instrument, or pick up that guitar again. Get messy doing crafts. Join local groups. You know how this works – and it will bump up the old social activity at the same time… which brings me to…


Work is often a sociable space as well as a professional one. You build friendships there where you communicate daily. Being at home alone, or just with your better half for days on end can begin to feel lonely and isolating. Also you might want to murder them.

To combat this, ensure to strengthen and maintain your existing friendships. Meet up with your old work friends for lunch or at the weekend. You’re also never too old to explore and nurture new friendships! Joining clubs for things you have an interest in can easily lead to new friends and a sense of community.

Loss of identity

Retiring from your profession can feel like losing a part of your identity. Particularly if it’s been a long and lustrous career, or you’ve always run your own businesses. It’s very normal to wonder who the hell you are once this has gone.

Focus on the parts of you that have always continued to exist. Are you still a grandparent, spouse, parent, artist, gardener, whatever your hobbies are. None of these things have changed.

But retirement can also be an opportunity to find new ways to define yourself. As well as having more time for the extra-curricular things you’ve never been able to squeeze in before, maybe you’ll find yourself heading in a completely new direction. All that freedom! Could you write a book? Travel the world? Become an influencer!? What an opportunity to reset.

Decline in self-confidence

You may feel a sense of uselessness after leaving work, as though you don’t have a purpose anymore. This in turn can lead to a drop in self-confidence.

Exercise can help with this (no, really). It releases feel-good endorphins which alleviate stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.

To combat feeling worthless, consider joining a local volunteering group. You’ll meet new people, and be part of helping the community, to give you more of a purpose. It’ll help other people and divert attention away from your own navel.

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Overwhelmed with time

This might seem like a great problem to have, all that time! But not knowing how to spend it can be overwhelming, especially when it feels it’s stretched out in front of you. And particularly if you’re alone.

One of the ways to avoid this ahead of retiring is to consider transitioning into your retirement. Maybe go part time for a while. Edge yourself out gently to get used to the idea.

Alternatively, look at other things to do. Could you volunteer (yes, we said it already, but hey)? What about a part time job?

Spend some time considering your time. We often plan a budget for our retirement or where we might live or go on holiday. But rarely what we’ll do on the daily.

Enjoy it

Retiring is your time to do whatever it is that you love. Whether it’s seeing family, going travelling, spending more time on your hobby, or learning a new skill. Don’t let the emotional pitfalls of shifting to this new routine ruin the time that you’ve worked hard for.

A free Pension Buddy Plan can help you feel confident about your retirement, by showing you simple steps you can take today. Take the first step to real financial wellness here.

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Lana Halls

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