Retirement and how to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

This entry is part 19 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

R is for Retirement.

Dreams of an idyllic lifestyle of relaxation and happiness suddenly evaporate unless you take certain precautions.

For me, retirement was something old people did. So when the time arrived for my husband to retire from full-time ministry, it was a challenging time for me. Although I no longer nursed, I still wrote, and I didn’t feel ready to stop that. So I have never actually retired.

After my husband retired, we moved to a retirement village in Port Elizabeth, a beautiful seaside city on the coast of South Africa. I looked forward to the time with mixed feelings. Would we now get old, because we were no longer earning an income?  How would we cope doing nothing?

Well, of course, given our personalities, that didn’t happen. We are as busy as ever. The great thing about retirement is you can say no! You are no longer under obligation to meet the demands of a busy company or boss.

Beware of these temptations: 

However, I soon realized there were certain dangers to watch out for if we  wanted to stay well physically as well as mentally.

  • There was no sense of commitment to a bigger cause. We were no longer working long hours so could lie in and become lazy and inactive.
  • The risk of living in isolation. We had never lived in Port Elizabeth. Although we had family within a few years they had all passed on (despite two of them being younger than us). So the risk of being  cut off from social interaction was real.
  • The temptation to no longer learn new things. Apart from challenges like learning to live on a pension, what else was there to learn? I have seen countless retired people fall into this trap. They sit with their newspaper, perhaps at least doing the crossword, or they take up bridge. But what are they learning?

There are so many ways to help improve your life, improve your mind, during retirement. Read more here:#atoz Click To TweetTips for a beneficial retirement:

Here are nine ways to ensure your time in retirement is beneficial and your life and mind both stay active as long as possible. Many of them have already been discussed in this series.

  1. Build a social network of friends (offline) with whom you can enjoy fellowship.  

  2. Join a church or another organization you believe in and get involved.

  3. Nourish your body through eating well including antioxidant-rich foods.

  4. Avoid regular braaiss (barbecue) or charred meat.

  5. Boost your diet with a good multivitamin/mineral and if necessary additional vitamin D and omega 3.

  6. Exercise plenty and get sufficient sleep.

  7. Allow at least 12 hours between the last meal of the day and breakfast.

  8. Keep learning. Teach yourself a new musical instrument or a new language. Learn chess or take up model building. 

  9. Have an annual checkup and ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels.

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37 comments on “Retirement and how to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

  1. Thanks Shirley for great words of wisdom and tips. I retired early – a whole year early – and thankfully and fortunately instinctively followed your plan and tips. I also had enough of my stifling corporate job and bad bosses. I am still a newby at retirement, working within an exciting packed day, progressing well and never been happier. You are so right I have never been busier, I sleep better and a lot of my stress induced ailments have disappeared or reduced dramatically. I decided to rather grow my craft business and be my own boss. In the short time into my life change I have been amazed with my personal and professional growth which has been phenomal as I recieved none from my corporate job in the past 5 years. It is so important to have a supportive social group of friends and a business network. Thanks for all your efforts.

    • Thanks so much for the visit, Lee-Anne. I love that you’ve had the courage to launch out into your craft business at which you’re so skilled. Here’s wishing you every blessing as you grow from strength to strength! (HINT Leave a live link on any comments to my website and I’ll follow them. If you’re not sure how to do that, I give instructions here: Tip for the week = How to create a live link. Scroll down to tip for the week.

  2. Very important pointers to stay healthy and live fully:) thank you for sharing.. many people wait for retirement to do things and then their health doesn’t support and by failing to plan they plan to fail… at other times I found some people expect children to look after them as they have invested in their lives by educating them and settling them down in careers and marriage… its common in some of the cultures .. I believe that we retire from work and not life:)

    • Thanks, Genevieve. I admit we hadn’t planned as we retired a year earlier than planned. We just had to get away from our situation. However, we had plenty hobbies and activities we wanted to spend time for so it wasn’t a problem. The folk that have a hard time adjusting to retirement are those who have no interests they can follow up. You’re so right. We’re not retiring from life!

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  4. I sometimes wonder how long it will be before the perception of retirement changes. Almost everyone I know who is recently retired is more busy now than they were before….busy doing fun things, things they always wanted to do. Nobody is bored, sitting around doing nothing, or acting old. Yet, the perception lingers…

  5. I am not retired, but after quitting my job 10 years ago to take care of my small family, I was going through all the bad symptoms an unproductive person goes through. Though I know that I am productive, the non-earning part pulls me down hard. I have been following many of the pointers you have given above to pull me out of that feeling, Shirley. Great tips!

  6. We moved to an “active retirement community” and for the past 14 years are loving it. Lots of sports activities like pickleball, golf, etc. to participate in, clubs to join (genealogy, political action, and writing for me), and interesting people to interact with.

    Earlier, we lived in a mixed community but found families with children were involved with their relatives and school activities and didn’t have time for the oldies living next door.

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  8. An interesting and informative post. One day, we all have to retire. And I have heard that it might not be as easy as some people think. While we might not have to work for a boss, the feeling that we aren’t required anymore might chip away at our self-confidence, and a sense of “uselessness” might creep in. To guard against that, those remedial steps you have suggested sound really good, and are sure to be of great use.

  9. Not retired, but this can also be helpful for those who do a lot of work from home. Sometimes it is important to see the world away from the computer screen!

  10. I would love to retire but that’s because I want to do more of things that I love, like reading and traveling. You have shared wonderful pointers. Yes, retired people should learn something new and keep themselves engaged and have a social network of people. Have seen so many people, doing nothing and that results in so much lethargy, monotony and ultimately negativilty!

  11. I could retire now but so far I have chosen not to – I’ve seen several co workers who didn’t plan properly, and ended up going back to work (or becoming totally bored). I hope to learn from their mistakes. Your advice is spot on.

  12. We are retired and busier than ever. We appreciate being able to sleep in (until 6 or 7) and having time to say “yes” to those in need.
    Thanks for the great post.

  13. Shirley,

    I’ve often heard retirement doesn’t mean you slow down. My in-laws kept busy during those years. Now, there are home with the Lord. Excellent tips for those facing retirement. We’re still several years away. It won’t have near the social impact on me since I’ve been a SAHM for the past 30 years but I imagine it will on DH. Luckily, we really like each other so we’ll have lots of fun together! Thanks for visiting!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    A2Z iPad Art Sketch ‘R’ for Rocks

    • Yes, Cathy, most of my DH and my social life is together as we’re good friends too, but at the same time we’re building up a network through the church especially so when the time comes for one of us to be alone we will still have people around us. I think that’s the next part of planning–realizing eventually one of you is likely to be alone. S is for Stress #atoz

  14. Your tips are great Shirley! I think I have lost my sense of urgency but I still try to achieve something useful each day. I love the quote by Betty Sullivan that retirement is bliss – I can attest to that 🙂
    You are going well with your A-Z challenge.

    • Thanks Debbie. With my book-launch approaching I very nearly pulled out the A to Z before it began, but somehow I juggled both and I’m glad I did. Now the book is out of my hands and I can concentrate on finishing the A to Z before working on the next phase of the launch. Never a dull moment! S is for Stress #atoz

  15. Wise words, Shirley. I didn’t plan ahead and got hit by ill-health forcing retirement early. My finances were stretched and it didn’t help that my family dragged their heels over helping me.

    My chronic disease – multiple sclerosis – remains so I’m still retired but my second wife is amazing – as are some of her family. I may not be so mobile, but I keep my brain active, mainly by writing – and doing A to Z challenge (

    • We catapulted into retirement 6 months earlier than we had planned. We had just “had enough” of our current working situation. Nevertheless it was a chance to take up the things we’d been longing to spend more time with so it was an easy switch – and yes, not having to get up early every day was a bonus- for me. Rob still gets up at 5 am every day. Crazy! But he’s one of these strange morning people, which I am definitely not! S is for Stress #atoz

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