So often we derive our sense of purpose from work, from our families, from leading goal-oriented lives. It can be quite the surprise when, after looking forward to retirement for so long, this new phase of life leaves one feeling suddenly adrift.
In 2009, Rush University Medical Center experts reported that people with a sense of purpose live longer, and the researchers wrote that it was, “particularly the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences” that improved seniors’ quality of life. The problem then isn’t retirement itself, but making this new phase of life as meaningful and special as the one before, without the stress and business that can make it hard to savor the little things in life. Here are our top tips for finding your sense of purpose in the golden years of retirement:
Use Old Skills in a New Way
Finding new ways to apply skills and passions can link your pre-retirement life to the present moment. If you worked in management or making a home for a large family, you might have organizational skills that would come in handy volunteering. Perhaps, you are used to negotiating with kids and clients alike, now you might enjoy tutoring or teaching. Or let’s say you feel as if you missed out on a number of activities you always wanted to try, and want to do something completely different than you’ve ever done before. With new creative or analytical challenges, reposition your skillset to succeed in unexpected ways.
We all have our physical limitations, but that’s no reason not to use what we’ve got. Staying active is good for you physically and mentally and can be a great way to meet small goals every day. A morning walk, a fitness class, a stroll through the Morristown Farmers Market, taking the stairs instead of elevator, or even physical therapy requirements can all give you a sense of pride in what you accomplish. Regency Morristown offers exercise classes, yoga, and Wii Fitness, combining physical activity with social time for a double whammy of endorphins.
Never Stop Learning
Taking a class at Walters State Community College or Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts could be just the extra boost you need. Or perhaps you’d enjoy pursuing a new interest from the comfort of your own home, by reading, listening to audio books, or using online tutorials. There are many tutorial videos available on the internet that can teach you how to do everything from building a birdhouse to new makeup techniques to knitting and more. If there’s something you always had a passion for, but couldn’t squeeze into your schedule, now is the time to make that dream come true. Perhaps you always wanted to read the Russian novelists, or get good at chess or crossword puzzles. This is the perfect time to learn something new!
Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
Studies have shown that reminiscing is a crucial process for linking our past to our present and showing us what we have done has meaning and has made an impact. It can also reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by allowing us to work through difficult memories, approach our personal histories from a new perspective, and share pieces of us with loved ones, friends, neighbors, and caretakers. Psychologist and author, Barbara Becker-Holstein explains that looking into your past to see what has contributed to your happiness previously can act a guide for what will make you happy now. What elements of your childhood can you bring into old age? What stories do you want to pass along to your loved ones? Nostalgia can illuminate the present moment.
It’s not always easy transitioning to retirement and away from many of the life events that seem to define us. But by living fully and authentically in the present moment, by focusing on what makes us happy, we can find fulfillment in any phase of life. Senior residential communities like Regency Morristown can give you a strong community and peace of mind, allowing you to focus on what matters the most.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living and our community, call 423-581-7075 today!
Written by: Meghan O’Dea