Keeping busy during retirement is good for cognitive health, which in turn is important for physical and emotional wellbeing. Unfortunately, studies have shown that short-term memory can decline 40 percent faster once someone stops working. So if you’re gearing up for retirement, avoid this by filling your days with enjoyable, stimulating activities. Here are some ideas:
Pursue multiple hobbies. One study found that retirees with three or four hobbies were happier than those with only one or two. Here are some hobbies you might enjoy: genealogy, writing (memoirs, fiction, non-fiction, poetry), collecting (stamps, coins, vinyl albums, vintage housewares, tools, or toys…) hiking, gardening, preserving fruits and vegetables, crossword puzzles, house plants, sewing, arts and crafts, woodworking, auto or appliance restoration, playing an instrument, bird watching….Rekindle an old passion or develop a brand new one.
Exercise. Check out local gyms and community centers to find fitness classes that interest you. This can be a great way to get active and meet new people in your community. If you’ve had a fitness goal, like running a marathon, that you’ve been too busy to achieve during your working years, this might be the perfect time to take it on. Golf and tennis are physical activities that can provide social interaction as well.
Volunteer Your Time. There are dozens of ways to help others with varying levels of commitment. Choose a cause you care about, and reach out. Depending on how much time and energy you have, it might be best to start small and allow your commitment to grow naturally.
Pack up and move. If you want to make a significant move in retirement (to a different state, or even to a different country), do it sooner rather than later. Consider buying a second home where you want to retire, and use it for vacations or rental income until you’re ready to move there. A new home can infuse novelty and energize your brain as you adapt to your new local.
Travel. When it comes to travel, there are many possibilities, from a quick weekend jaunt to a round-the-world ticket. Take the time to craft the perfect trip for your personality and budget.
Make friends with other active retirees. You might find that many of your friends are still in the workforce, or that those who aren’t don’t share your goal of an active retirement. If that’s the case, find people who enjoy the same hobbies as you do, and make a point of seeing them regularly.
Babysit. Even if your children are grown and you don’t have grandkids to look after (or you don’t have children at all), you can still help raise the next generation by offering to help young parents in your neighborhood by doing some occasional babysitting.
Learn how to better manage your schedule. A 2013 study showed that it isn’t so much the number of hours of free time a retiree has in a day, but how well that time is managed that determines happiness. A lack of planning can leave you feeling bored and listless. So keep a to-do list, plan your days, and stay engaged.
Don’t rely on your children to fill your time. Texas Tech University researchers found that living within 10 miles of their children actually reduces retirees’ quality of life. It’s not exactly clear why this is, but people may be disappointed in the amount or quality of interaction with their grown kids.
Become politically active in your community. Make an active contribution to society during your retirement by volunteering for political campaigns that move you, or by sharing your wisdom and experience at town hall meetings or with your city council. Run for office if you are truly inspired to affect change.
Visit cultural establishments regularly. Visit art galleries, museums, theaters, cinemas, science centers, zoos, botanical gardens and tourist attractions. You’ll have the freedom to go during the day and beat the crowds.
Work part-time. Many retirees pick up side-hustles to keep themselves busy and make some cash. Some retires connect with their professional network and do consulting. Others work part time retail, or sell their handy-work online or at local fairs to supplement their income and create a fulfilling life.
Keep trying new things. Once retired, don’t let your mind slide into atrophy. Study a new language, learn to play mah jongg, take lessons on a musical instrument, join a book club, or audit a college course. Challenge yourself to try new things on a regular basis, and retirement could be the most stimulating, exciting, interesting period of your life.
At Penny Lane Financial, we have strategies to help you secure your assets and create life-long income streams so that you are able to pursue all that life has to offer during retirement.