The importance of a healthy mind and body as we approach retirement cannot be under-estimated. Your biggest asset is not your house or your bank balance. Your biggest asset is you and you need to take care of it. Just like any other asset, you need to invest in your health.
What if we neglect our health?
We will not be as active/mobile, which may prevent us from doing things we want to.
We will be more prone to injuries and health issues due to our reduced strength, mobility and weight maintenance.
We will spend more money on healthcare.
Our sleep will suffer.
We may miss out on socialising with family and friends.
We are more likely to experience some form of depression or mental illness.
The link between physical and mental health is an important one. If we have physical issues where we are unable to stay active, we are more likely to experience isolation and depression. And vice versa, if we have a mental illness such as depression, it can be hard to find the energy and motivation to get active.
The challenge of staying healthy
As we enter retirement, it is both easier and harder to stay healthy. Easier because we have more time available to us. Harder because we have more time available to us. That is not a typo – let me explain.
Staying physically healthy in retirement is easier because we are no longer bound to a job or anyone else’s schedule. We have all this extra time available for exercise.
Staying mentally healthy in retirement is the harder part. In part 6 of the retirement planning series, I wrote about the importance of having things to do in retirement to fill your time. For many of us, we are having to find something to do for an extra 40 hours a week. Where previously this time was already decided for us by our employer.
If we can’t find enjoyable things to fill this time, then we have all this extra time to think about how miserable we are. You may be ok doing nothing for a short time, but definitely not for 20-30 years. We thrive on challenges. We need something to get us up in the mornings. Our brains are muscles, and if we don’t challenge them, they will get weaker.
This is why it is so important to be both physically AND mentally healthy. They both feed into each other. You can start off physically healthy, but if you start to get a mental illness, then you are less likely to remain physically active. Likewise, you may start off mentally healthy but not physically active. After time, your lack of physical activity will increase the likelihood of a mental illness.
Recommendations to remaining healthy
Make lists of things you want to achieve in retirement. Remain busy.
Find new hobbies. Do things you enjoy.
Maintain close relationships with friends and family.
Get regular sleep
Don’t drink too much: alcohol no, water yes.
Postpone retirement until you are mentally ready for the change, or reduce your hours to part time.
If you don’t remain healthy, you won’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labour. The rewards of 40 years of hard work will be wasted.
Sometimes life does not go according to plan and we may not be able to retire due to a lack of savings. By remaining healthy we have set ourselves up with a back-up plan. Where we can continue to work if our situation requires it. Or maybe you enjoy working so much you want to continue, regardless of whether you have enough money or not. If we don’t have our health, we don’t have this option to fall back on.
Happiness is the key to life and the things that bring us the most happiness require us to be healthy. Anyone can have things, but it is experiences that make life amazing.
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
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