By Deb Zulawski
Blogger, artist, photographer, global traveler and soon to be expat currently living in the Pacific Northwest
You have worked your entire life and, finally, finally you are retired. Now, you want to make the best of it. Have you taken the time to think about what you are to going to do and how to make that happen?
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Focus on good nutrition
Selecting and purchasing quality food that provides good nutrition, without all the harmful chemicals, preservatives and additives will provide your body and mind the vital nutrients to stay healthy and sharp in retirement.
A neighbor in her 80's, who was an artist living a very simple life once told me that even though she and her husband lived pretty bare bones, they never scrimped on nutrition, and I have always remembered that advice. Get off the prepackaged and processed foods. There is nothing good about them, except they are easy to prepare, and well, now that you are retired you have time to make yourself a nice, healthy meal.
Not cooking a lot these days? Create a lovely salad loaded with veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. If you like, chop a little egg or chicken and add to the salad. It's easy. It's fresh. And it's packed with nutrition. Add to that a freshly made vegetable soup and you have a great meal loaded with vitamins and minerals. You can make enough for several days, so it is just a matter of plating the salad and heating the soup. Eat well, make good choices for your food, and the rest will follow.
Establish a close circle of friends.
As one gets older it is easy to begin to stay at home more often where it is comfortable. You get up, have your morning coffee, maybe check the news, read your favorite reelwanderer.com blog, *smile* pick up around the house a bit and before you know it the day is almost over and you haven’t left the house and you haven’t had any social contact. It is an easy pattern to fall into, especially if you are a bit of an introvert or you simply enjoy spending time with yourself.
Those who seem happiest in retirement lead full lives, are involved in groups of common interests, join activities or attend events. They are out and about with friends. Friends are key. They are your support system.
Of course, if you have a partner or spouse, they are as well, but expanding your circle beyond your partner or spouse will provide increased interaction and connection with others with diverse interests and views.
When you are working you have instant friendships, but after retiring, if you don't have a circle of people to connect with, then you will actively need to take the time to establish connections that are supportive and active, even more so if you are an introvert. Be selective. Find friends that make you feel good, are supportive of your dreams, interesting to be around, challenge your thinking, provide laughter, and have a positive outlook on life. These are all things that will enrich your life.
Exercise, get off that sofa.
Back in my 20's and 30's I would pay for a gym membership and several times a week I would go workout, lifting weights, playing racket ball or tennis, and running on the treadmill. That was then and this is now. I am not interested in paying for a gym membership, let alone lifting weights. But I do love walking. Walking in a park, on the beach, through my neighborhood, or a few blocks to a local restaurant for dinner with a friend. Walking doesn't cost a penny and it is better on your joints than running.
Walk to town to get your groceries and see what's happening in the area where you live. Chat with your neighbors and local merchants. Get to know your neighborhood and community. You may be in a for a fun surprise when your run across a street performer or see a flyer on a storefront advertising a fun and maybe even FREE event. If you love nature, go for a hike in the mountains or on the beach, ride a bike, garden or join a yoga class. Just get up and move and keep moving. An object in motion stays in motion...an object not in motion ...well, you know the saying.
Get involved. Give back.
Volunteering for a cause that is important to you feeds the soul. Many spend their whole life working at a job that is just that, a job. Being retired allows one to provide service to others. Find what you love and are passionate about and look for volunteer opportunities in that area of interest.
Love animals? Volunteer at the local shelter. Like to cook? There are opportunities to volunteer at soup kitchens, church events, fairs and festivals for local clubs. Are you good at woodworking? Maybe you could volunteer to work with teens as the local YMCA or an after school program to teach kids this valuable skill. Have you always loved the arts? Consider volunteering at a music or theatre venue in your town. Children at the top of your list? There are so many opportunities to give back in ways that help children, from hospitals to schools to churches to clubs. Your heart will feel full when you give back and that is what happiness is made of!
Positive thinking and being optimistic about life simply makes life better.
Have you ever been around someone whose glass was always half-full? It drains and brings you down. Simply by approaching life in a positive fashion and by looking for the best in people and expecting the best out of life you will notice that life seems better, happier and lighter.
I just reunited with a friend that I worked with 24 years ago. Now 90 years old, she is mentally sharp and physically mobile. She finds humor in life, has plans for the future, dreams are plenty and she radiates positivity. She has had a rare condition for quite some time, but approaches it as something that is, not something that becomes who she is. What an inspiration for a happy, long life!
So, take the bull, I mean, retirement by the horns and make it the best it can be. Get up, get out, spend time with friends, laugh, get moving and look to your future with optimism.
It’s up to you to make your retirement the best that it can be! Enjoy each and every day!
What are you doing to make your retirement everything that you hoped it would be? Share your comments below.
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