A Guide to Looking After Your Physical and Mental Health as a Retiree
Caring for our health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance. Regardless of your age, occupation, or where you live, we all have a responsibility to look after our and wellbeing. With the pandemic highlighting aspects of our lives that we once turned a blind eye to, it is easy to recognise that we should be caring more for our health in the coming weeks and months and, of course, it is particularly important to consider our physical and mental as a retiree.
While that is very much the case, it can be challenging to know where best to start. After all, your overall health is made up of so many different components. What’s more, our health needs adapt and change over time, based on our age and whether there is any pre-existing health condition as well.
For the most part, it is easy to know how to best care for your physical and mental health; with various tools and resources out there, it is somewhat easier to know where to turn. But what about when you reach retirement age? Naturally, you will be leading a somewhat different life from what you are used to, and therefore, the ways you look after your health would have changed too.
Becoming a retiree doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in poor physical and mental health. We all know people in their eighties and even nineties that could put many a young person to shame! But nonetheless, as we age and our lifestyles change, we certainly need to give more priority to our physical and mental health. And because we hopefully have fewer time restraints, we are probably in a position to ensure we can maintain our health in a fun way that best fits our new lifestyles.
In this position yourself and unsure where to start? Read on to find out what you need to know.
While we feel confident this is something you would have already heard before, we nonetheless feel it is worth yet another mention!
Staying active as you get older is critical to your overall health and can make your quality of life that little bit better.
Now, this is not to say that you have to run miles and miles, much like you would have done in your younger years. Getting up and about in your garden or going for a walk around the block with your precious pup will go a long way, both in the short and long term.
Dancing can be a really fun way of keeping fit and meeting new people, and classes such as yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are similarly all enjoyable and extremely effective activities.
Physical exercise also benefits our mental health and plays an important role in protecting us against dementia.
Exercising as you get older will, as well as a whole host of other health conditions. While there are things that you can do to minimise your chances of developing a condition, there is always the chance that it could still happen.
Suppose you are in the position where you have been diagnosed with a health condition, both short term and life-long. Once the initial shock has worn off, you should get a plan of action in place to treat the condition. Establish what treatment will be needed for your health condition and whether you would get this treatment on the NHS or need to go private.
Following on from this, you may need to figure out how best to afford your treatments. While nothing stops you from using any savings that you might have, a range of health insurance policies can be used to cover things like these. While finding the right policies that suit your needs can be a bit of a minefield, there are web-based companies such as Switch Health to help you find suitable health insurance quotes; you can rest assured you will find something that suits your individual needs.
Health insurance policies can be used to access treatment to treat your mental health, too; it is not restricted to just your physical needs. There are also various ways that you can treat your mental health, which takes us to the following section.
Looking after our mental health has never been more important. With an increased interest in the effects of the pandemic on our overall mental wellbeing, there will undoubtedly be some people reading this and beyond who are wondering what they can do in the future to help. Many struggled with their mental health due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, regardless of age.
While we recognise it can be challenging to put a label on how you are feeling and admitting that you are struggling with your mental health, this is the first and most critical step for caring about your mental health. Being open with your nearest and dearest about your feelings will also go a long way; they are your support network and will love and support you on your darkest days.
Once you have determined how you are feeling, you can work with others to determine what might be the cause of the feelings and what you can do to alleviate these feelings.
Family and friends are undoubtedly significant in your mental health journey but are not the only resources for caring about your mental health. Explore the various charities and organisations that exist, specifically providing care and support to those of retirement age. Assess what ways they can help you and who you can contact when you are feeling lonely.
Many external factors can contribute to your mental health and how you are feeling. Some can be controlled, while others cannot. Establish what you can manage and how you can do this while also accepting there are things outside of your control. Being able to distinguish this line will further do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Retirement provides a great opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen cooking delicious meals from scratch. But have you thought about the benefits of a more plant-based diet? Many retirees have been brought up on a ‘meat and two veg’ type of main meal and some struggle to move away from that habit. However, do try and experiment. As well as the immense health benefits of a more plant-based diet, you will be amazed at how tasty some of the options are. But again, do try and cook from scratch when you can.
It’s good to see a greater choice of veggie and vegan meals in the supermarket aisles and they are a great standby, but as with any convenience food, they may still contain too much salt, sugar, and unnecessary additives.
Family and Friends
Being a retiree should mean more time to spend with family and friends. If work and workmates have played a big role in your life, it may also be the time to create a new circle of friends. As well as the fitness groups you may join, consider other local groups such as U3A – University of the Third Age. As the organisation says, the purpose of U3A is to help you:
“Make the most of life once you are no longer in full time work by exploring new ideas, silks and interests.”
That sounds like a plan!