How Do You Adjust to Retirement Mentally and Emotionally?

Transitioning to retirement can be mentally and emotionally challenging. With support & preparation, you’ll be able to ease into your new lifestyle.

Retirement is often presented as a stress-free reward after years of hard work. While many people look forward to this new chapter and find plenty of rewarding ways to spend their time, it’s also common for people to go through an adjustment period and have questions about what’s normal to feel.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to acclimate to a work-free life. Here’s everything you should know about transitioning to retirement mentally and emotionally. With a little support and preparation, you’ll be able to ease into a new lifestyle and enjoy everything that lies ahead.

Common stressors surrounding retirement

Even if you’ve spent years envisioning your retirement, preparing for it can be challenging. From a financial standpoint, going from a steady paycheck to relying on retirement funds can feel daunting.

Moreover, many people have expectations of a great sense of ease that will come with retirement, but there are factors about your work life that you may miss—and their absence could leave you feeling anxious. For example, having no set routine or interaction with coworkers could cause you to feel listless and isolated.

Your professional role can make up a significant part of your identity, so no longer having work in your life may make you feel a bit lost. If you live with a spouse or significant other, you may also experience a loss of independence if the expectation is that you’ll spend most of your time together. If your loved one is still working, then you could feel lonely.

Retirement leaves you with plenty of time to think and allow your mind to wander. While it’s normal for the adjustment to take some time, there are steps you can take to ease the switch to retirement mode.

How to cope with the transition to retirement

It’s often possible to ease the transition to retirement simply by reevaluating your expectations. Instead of picturing retirement as the destination at the end of your career, think of it as a whole new journey. How would you like to fill your time? If there were projects you put aside because you were too busy during your working years, now is the time to pursue them.

You could even incorporate some goals into your retirement living. You might try to hit a certain number of volunteering hours in the coming year, for example, or try one new recipe a week. Finding new friends and visiting old ones are also goals to consider that could help to nourish your need for socialization.

In addition to meeting your mental and emotional needs, you’ll also want to care for yourself physically. If there are any doctor’s visits, routine screenings, or other wellness activities you’ve been putting off, get appointments on your calendar. Continue to eat well, exercise, and sleep sufficiently. It may be helpful to maintain a schedule, even if you don’t need to be out the door at any specific time. Creating structure can help you avoid restlessness. Block off time in your routine for daily walks, hobbies, and connecting loved ones.

If you’re still not quite yourself, even after trying these tactics, there are other ways you can support your mental and emotional health throughout the transition. Practicing gratitude by journaling about the things you appreciate could help reset your mind. Getting outdoors, turning to a support network, and even getting a pet can also help boost your mood.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with seeking some outside help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Many retirees are happy to find out that Medicare covers mental health care, which may include therapy or counseling services. If you’re experiencing a dip in your mood that could be related to retirement, you won’t have to worry about paying for mental health services out of pocket. For most Medicare Advantage plans, you can expect to pay a copay of $20 to $40, while Medicare Part B plans cover 80% of the service after the annual deductible is met.

Get retirement-ready with Keen 

If you’re looking for guidance when considering your Medicare options, allow us to help. Our no-cost, no-obligation service connects you with local advisors who simplify Medicare enrollment for a hassle-free experience. Call (888) 443-5336 for assistance or schedule an appointment with one our licensed Medicare advisors.

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