Q: My husband retired six months ago, an event he excitedly looked forward to after working in a very stressful technical field for the last ten years. The first few months were great, he did all the things he had put off; visited friends, tinkered with house projects, even started to exercise. But lately he seems lost, I’d even say he’s a little depressed.
I have two more years before I retire and can join him in leisure, but I’m beginning to worry about him. Is this normal? Any suggestions?
A: Many of us dream of retirement, sleeping late, being in charge of our day, doing what we want, when we want. Finally being able to do all those things we simply don’t have time to do with a fulltime job. Sounds ideal. But while this freedom can be liberating it can also be disorienting. No wonder a 2013 study in the UK reported 40% of retirees suffer from clinical depression.
The majority of “retirement planning” focuses on planning for our financial health and wellbeing. But we also have to plan -just as carefully- for our mental health and wellbeing. Unfortunately this side of the equation is usually overlooked and your husband may be a typical example of what can happen.
This is especially true of high achievers, top sales people, executives and senior management who have tied their identity and self value to their job. When they step away and the world no longer sees them or treats them the same way, it’s understandable to feel a little lost.
So here are a couple of ideas:
Add Structure and Schedule – complete freedom is both a blessing and a curse. Suggest he try going back to work part-time or volunteering a few days a week. Having a place to go and being expected somewhere does wonders for curing that “lost” feeling.
Relationships – Retirement can be isolating. Whereas friendships happen naturally in the workplace, in retirement they take some initiative and require actively seeking to meet new people. Is he an introvert? How about deepening existing relationships with family and friends, we often neglect those close to us while we are busy working.
Lastly, don’t forget about yourself. Now that you know better, use the next two years to plan your own retirement, including your own mental wellbeing.
More ideas here.
©Copyright Eva Del Rio