The wait is over—it’s time to retire. And while you’ve always imagined retirement as being a carefree, stress-free end to your career, it might not feel that way once you’re in it. You’ll still have to keep your finances in check, manage your time well and take care of your health, among other responsibilities.
One way to ensure you’re living your best post-vocational life is to begin practicing mindfulness. In its most basic sense, mindfulness is just as it sounds—being aware of what’s happening around you and paying attention. Of course, it’s a state of mind that’s easier defined than achieved, but once you unlock it, you’ll feel more in control of the here and now, rather than worrying about what’s in the past or the future.
After several recent meaningful discussions with one of the people I hold closest to me—my grandmother—I’ve decided to put some of her tips and thoughts together into a helpful guide for retirees. Whether you’re preparing for your retirement or are already kicking up your heels after decades of work, now is the perfect time to learn how to make your life at an older age as peaceful as possible.
Here are eight mindfulness-related tips tailored to this time in your life, courtesy of Grandma Harveston.
Find your drive
Work gave you a sense of purpose—even if you were itching to retire, you woke up every weekday with a plan ahead of you. Without that, many seniors struggle to feel the same sense of fulfillment. So even if you’re done working, figure out what it is that drives you each day.
Perhaps you want to spend more time with your grandchildren, master your golf game, learn to paint or see the world. Once you’re aware of your goal(s), make them your focus. Mindfulness can help you achieve these dreams, so pay attention and commit to your purpose!
Enjoy the little things
So much of our working lives are spent rushing out of the house in the morning, hurrying onto the next midday meeting and so on. Now that you’re retired, take the time to truly indulge in each quiet moment you have.
Wrap your hands around your morning coffee and crack open the newspaper, even if it’s a weekday. Enjoy each bite of your meals—remember when you’d scarf down lunch at your desk while on the job? Again, your mental presence will help you stay connected, appreciate the moment and really savour every second of retirement.
Keep your health in mind
You can’t be mindful without keeping an eye on your physical health. There are so many benefits to maintaining a regular fitness routine. For older retirees, exercise will help you maintain your muscle mass—the average adult loses up to 8 percent per decade after their thirties.
Keeping your muscles strong will help you stay mobile for as long as possible. If that’s not incentive enough to hit the gym or get outdoors, exercise can boost your mental health, too, and a clear mind will only help you in your mindfulness quest.
A great way to stoke mindfulness is to get in the habit of journaling. Not only will writing help you work through any internal struggles you may be having, but it’ll also give you a chance to take stock of your day or week. What good things happened? What are you thankful for? Once you close the pages of your diary, you’ll feel refreshed and refocused—and grateful for the life you’re leading now.
Rewire your thoughts on aging
Some retirees might look back on the many years they’ve lived and feel as though they’ve reached the end of life’s road. Needless to say, this somber outlook won’t help you live out your retirement in a cheerful, carefree way.
Instead, you have to rewire your way of thinking—you’ve just begun the best, most liberating years of your life. Consider all you’ve learned about life and about yourself, and let that be a positive. Then, let mindfulness keep you in the most important place—the present, where you’re very much still living.
I just mentioned how much wisdom you’ve all picked up in your personal and professional lives. However, there’s always room in your brain for more information, and learning can keep you fully present throughout your retirement. You might want to start with the basics of mindfulness itself, by training yourself to remain in the current moment rather than thinking about past or future problems. Then, move onto the skills that you’ve always wanted to obtain.
You’ve spent years squirrelling away money to spend now that you’re retired. You likely have a large sum of money sitting in a bank account somewhere, and seeing a sum like that can be quite tempting—you’ll be inclined to splurge. But extending a mindful approach to your finances will help you avoid stress in that realm, too. Clue into your most honest thoughts before making a big purchase, in order to decide if you’re making a wise decision or not.
Remember—it’s never too late
Finally, always keep in mind that today is just the beginning. Your mindfulness training should help you stay rooted in this fact—you can change the things you don’t like about your life whenever you want to. So if you find yourself unable to enjoy your retirement, end it by finding a new job. Or, if you feel bored without things to do, start filling your planner with social or educational engagements. No matter what you need, you can make it happen. It’s never too late.
But the great thing about leading a mindful lifestyle is that you’ll know this to be true. You’ll be able to find your calm because you’re connected to yourself and your present state. And if you’re retired, you’ll realize that your reality isn’t a bad one—and you’ll want to enjoy it as you deserve to!