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04/23

6 helpful ways to keep yourself active during retirement

By Charles Smith

A strong financial plan will help you to stay on course to meet your long-term goals, as you navigate your way through life towards your eventual retirement. The aim is that when that day arrives, 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 “ikigai”, 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.

Read on to discover six ways you can keep yourself active in both mind and body, and ensure you get the most out of your retirement years.

1. 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 it could benefit your mental health. You could try:

  • Painting
  • Writing poetry
  • Photography 
  • Learning an instrument
  • Acting

The Mental Health Foundation champions arts as a way for people, especially those later in life, to overcome isolation and rebuild social connections.

You don’t have to discover your inner Van Gogh or Brando. Simply taking the time to switch off and pursue something creative can help your mind stay active and healthy.

2. Unleash your “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 daily routines, rather than as a dedicated goal. 

People in these zones 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 health, so why not consider growing them yourself in your garden?

It’s also great for your mental health and could help you unwind.

3. Become a leader in your local community

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 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. 

4. 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 t’ai chi. Once seen as hobbies of the free-spirited fringes of society, they have become increasingly mainstream.

The benefits of these activities aren’t just physical, but also mental.

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 mean you get the most out of retirement.

5. Reflect on your life and write down your story

The idea of writing your memoirs might be daunting, but it can be an excellent way to acknowledge your achievements and reflect on your favourite memories. 

The exercise helps keep your mind active. 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.

6. Stay productive with a part-time job

It might seem counterproductive to take on a job when you’ve only just retired. But part-time work can be very beneficial for maintaining a structure in your daily life.

It can also help with giving you purpose and a challenge that will keep you active and feeling productive.

This can take many forms; you might opt to take up consultancy for your old profession or look into a teaching position. Otherwise, you might want to turn a long-gestating idea into reality and start up a new business.