Staying well in retirement31 Aug 2017
1 in 10 older Australians experience depression and anxiety.
While mental health challenges can occur at any stage of your life, there are times you are especially vulnerable to experiencing depression and anxiety.
Retirement can involve some triggers for these conditions, particularly if it is a stressful time or if it becomes an ongoing challenge. ‘The transition between work and retirement is a big change,’ explains beyondblue’s Policy,
Research and Evaluation Leader, Dr Stephen Carbone. ‘For some people it’s a positive, but for others it means a certain level of loss.’
SuperFriend’s Mentally Healthy Retirement Program outlines five ways to stay well during retirement.
One of the major differences between working life and retirement is the change in social interactions. Carbone says, ‘People who are lonely or feel socially isolated are often at a higher risk of developing depression. Having that social support network is just as important at 65, 75 or 85 as it is at any other time in your life.’
Building new connections within your community is important, as is continuing to foster strong relationships with your family and friends. Trying new activities by joining like-minded groups is one method of staying socially active – you’ll be doing things you enjoy while meeting new people and making new friendships.
There are strong links between both physical and mental health. Being active in ways that work within your lifestyle and abilities is vital.
This can be challenging for some. ‘As you get older, physical health problems can start to kick in and we know that these can increase the risk of experiencing depression and anxiety, particularly when the person is in pain or the condition is causing a loss of independence,’ says Carbone.
However, it’s important to do what you can. ‘Looking after your health in general is good for you – eating well, regular physical activity, adequate sleep – and looking after your mental health is just as important,’ Carbone says. ‘Stay stimulated, challenged, involved, connected; these things help reduce stress, prevent loneliness and decrease the risk of depression and anxiety.’
Being present and purposeful about the actions you take can help you plan activities and interactions that you enjoy. ‘Anything that gives you a sense of satisfaction, stimulation, relaxation or purpose is the stuff we need,’ says Carbone.
Taking notice of how you’re spending your days is also a good way to decide what you want to do. ‘Retirement can be overwhelming if you have all this time and you’re not sure what to do with it,’ Carbone says. Finding purpose within retirement will help you feel happier and increase your mental wellbeing.
You actively learn through all stages of your life, and retirement is no different. Learning new skills and adding to your current interests is still important in retirement.
There will be things you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the time for, so now is your chance to give them a go. This can help you set goals and give you a sense of achievement. Carbone suggests that adding to your skillset can help you find who you are in retirement.
Senior Australians contribute the highest number of volunteer hours of any age group, with around 2.9 million people over 65 taking part in voluntary activities.
Research shows that giving back to your community helps you make new connections, increases your self-worth and can teach you new skills, which is great for your mental wellbeing.
This article has been supplied by SuperFriend.
Media Super is a proud partner of SuperFriend, a national mental health promotion foundation focused on creating mentally healthy workplaces.
To find out more about SuperFriend’s Planning for a Mentally Healthy Retirement program, visit superfriend.com.au.
If you’re having difficulty adjusting to retirement or you just want to talk to someone, beyondblue is ready to provide support, service and advice at 1300 22 4636.