Why it is important to look after your mental health in retirement 

When people consider their retirement they most commonly focus on the financial element, “Do I have enough money to retire?” While financial stability is undoubtedly a key ingredient in the recipe for a happy and successful retirement, there are other factors that are just as important but often overlooked.

At Transition Planning Australia, we have identified five key things that need to be satisfied for you to enjoy a happy retirement. These are:

financial security,
physical health,
mental health,
social connections, and
a sense of meaning or purpose in life.
Each key requires serious consideration as you are transitioning into retirement. In this article we will be specifically exploring the importance of actively caring for and maintaining your mental health in retirement.

Looking after your mental and emotional health in retirement.

Research has shown that people who regularly stimulate and challenge their brain with complex mental activities are on average:

more likely to have better cognitive function
less likely to experience cognitive decline with ageing, and
less likely to develop dementia.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in five retirees experiences depression. There are many reasons why this may be the case. Most obviously, retirement is a huge change. That change can often be hard to adjust to.

Your brain has been kept stimulated for many years by your work. When that stops, you need to find other mentally stimulating activities to replace it.

There are plenty of ways you can keep your brain active and healthy in retirement. Some examples are learning a new language, learning a musical instrument or studying a subject that fascinates you – maybe even doing a tertiary course, for example at the University of the Third Age.

Research has also shown that retirement has the strongest positive psychological effect on people with solid social networks. Those retirees who are engaged in the community and spend plenty of time with their family and friends, enjoy better mental health than others.

The important thing is to take the time to plan activities to stimulate you mentally in your retirement. Start working on this before you retire to ensure that they are activities you can see yourself pursuing on a regular basis in retirement.

A good way to see where you are in terms of planning for retirement is by taking Transition Planning Australia’s free retirement readiness online quiz. It will only take a few minutes, and could help you along the road to a healthy and happy retirement.

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