9 daily habits that can make your retirement more vibrant and rewarding

Have you ever imagined what your retirement will look like? 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably pictured yourself just lazing around in the mornings, no urgent need to get up, no emails to check, no trains to catch…

But then…you might also have a feeling like: Okay, now what? Will I then fade into oblivion? 

Not at all, unless that’s what you want to do. Retirement is the perfect time to rediscover and redefine yourself. And it can be intensely rewarding and vibrant! 

To get there, though, you’ll need to cultivate the right habits everyday. Here are 9 daily habits that can make your retirement not just fulfilling, but possibly the best time of your life. 

Let’s dive in! 

1) Wake up early

First up, apparently, my dream of sleeping in once I retire isn’t exactly the healthiest option. 

It has to do with keeping the brain sharp. Research from the University of Pittsburgh shows that: 

“Older people who consistently get up early and remain active throughout the day are happier and perform better on cognitive tests than those with irregular activity patterns.”

You don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn (unless that’s your jam), but sticking to a consistent schedule can work wonders for your mental agility and overall mood.

Without a work schedule to give your day some structure, it’s important to still establish a rhythm that your body and mind can rely on. 

Because when you wake up at the same time every day, you’re setting a natural pace for your body’s internal clock.

In effect, your body knows to stay engaged and alert during waking hours, and to quiet down as the evening draws to a close. This allows you to squeeze out more value from each day. 

2) Get your steps in

We all know by now just how important physical activity is. But it becomes doubly important when you’re retired

Why? Because, according to the CDC, regular physical activity can help you prevent, or at least delay, many of the health issues that come with aging. 

Movement also helps keep your muscles strong so you can stay independent and mobile. 

I don’t know if you’ve seen the documentary “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones,” in which journalist Dan Buettner set out to investigate communities where people not only lived longer but also enjoyed a high quality of life in their old age. 

One of their most significant findings was that these people walked practically everywhere! 

Let’s face it – without a healthy body, it’s hard to have a vibrant and rewarding life. So lace up your shoes, walk out the door, and get those steps in! 

3) Eat whole foods

Similarly, your diet plays a huge role in your health and, consequently, overall happiness. 

That’s another one of the findings that Buettner and his team discovered in the blue zones. People in these zones had a healthy relationship with food. 

Specifically, they tended to keep to a 95% plant-based diet. They weren’t strict vegetarians but they did keep eating meat down to only around five times per month. 

So, if you’re a meat-lover or someone whose pantry has a lot of junk food, I suggest beginning the transition early. 

Start weeding out those chips and processed food from your pantry and train yourself to eat less meat and more veggies. 

It’s an investment towards a vibrant and rewarding retirement

4) Stay connected with people

Here’s a curious thing that happens when people retire: they’ve dreamed of it for so long, but when it finally happens, they end up feeling lonely

Not all retirees go through this, but some do, and it’s easy to see why. For most of their lives, they’ve gone to a workplace where there’s always someone to talk to or collaborate with. 

Then in one blink, that all goes away and they’re faced with years and years of reduced social interaction. Even for those with families and whose retirement was voluntary, this can happen. 

Once the novelty of being free from the job wears off, they may even miss the sense of identity and purpose that their job gave them. 

All of that adds up to a feeling of aimlessness and loneliness. 

To combat that, it helps to stay connected to people, which is another essential ingredient in having a meaningful and rewarding life long after retirement

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Strengthen the social network you already have. Catch up for coffee with old friends, or stay in touch with old work colleagues. 
  • If your company offers it, enroll in a retirement transition program. Or find a similar program in your local community center. It can help ease your transition to this new chapter, and meet other retirees like yourself. 
  • Join a peer support group. Platforms like Meetup are a good starting point for finding a group you can relate to. 

Or do this next thing…

5) Volunteer

special personality traits of people who genuinely enjoy helping others 9 daily habits that can make your retirement more vibrant and rewarding

The great thing about volunteering is that it doesn’t just give you something to do to while the hours away. It gives you something more important – a sense of purpose. 

Like I mentioned earlier, for many people, their jobs are what gave them a sense of purpose and identity. 

When that goes away, these questions pop up:

Who am I now that I’m no longer a [insert job title]? What am I good for now?  

That’s where volunteering comes in. It’s the perfect way to give back to a community and feel useful and productive. 

Because no matter what stage of life we’re in, feeling productive and useful is a huge part of what makes life meaningful. 

To that end, here are three other habits that can help with that…

6) Hit the books

If you never had the time to read, well, now you do! You’ve finally got all the time in the world to sit back and lose yourself in the pages of a book. 

Why does reading help make your retirement more vibrant

It’s pretty simple – you’re learning something new. Newness wakes up the brain and keeps it making new connections. Keeps it colorful and sparkling! 

Besides, reading is more than just a solitary activity. It can be incredibly social. You can join or start a book club and have social connections – like hitting two birds with one stone. 

Plus, the commitment to read a new book each month (or each week if you can!) can be a great motivator to keep your reading habit going strong. 

7) Take up a hobby or learn a new skill

Aside from reading books, now is the time to go all in on a hobby. Who says you have to stop learning when you stop working? 

In The National News, Joe Casey, retirement coach and author of “Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy,” says: 

“People can struggle in retirement if they believe that they have stopped evolving and that their days of learning new things are behind them.”

That’s why it’s important to keep a growth mindset. You can learn painting, golf, coding, whatever strikes your fancy. 

It might be strange to hear this while you’re in your 50s or 60s, but really, the world still is your oyster!  Don’t let your age be a barrier to exploring new interests.

8) Schedule unplugged time

Obviously, life has become so much easier with technology. That won’t go away, and I don’t want it to. 

I mean, do we really want to go back to a time when there were no food delivery apps? When the only way to stay connected with friends was by snail mail? 

That said, we shouldn’t let technology swallow us whole, either. Especially in retirement, when we’ve finally got hours and hours free to scroll down the rabbit hole of the internet. 

Because while it’s useful, technology has its downsides:

  • It encourages a sedentary lifestyle 
  • It can lead to vision troubles
  • It can disrupt our sleep cycles
  • It can make us feel disconnected and lonely

It’s actually a longer list than that, but you get the picture. 

The good news is, you don’t have to quit it entirely. Just schedule a time of the day to unplug and do something else that’s entirely offline. 

Your brain and body will thank you for it!

9) Have a spiritual practice

Finally, I’d like to talk about spirituality. Having a spiritual practice can really add something special to your retirement. 

By spirituality, I’m not referring solely to religion. I’m talking about finding something that gives you peace and a sense of purpose. 

It could be anything that makes you feel connected, like meditation, enjoying nature, or even just taking a quiet moment to reflect on your life.

An interesting study talks about the mediating role of spirituality in retirement. It states, “Spirituality may [also] have an important role to play in accepting changing circumstances.”

And make no mistake – retirement brings with it so many changing circumstances. 

For instance, aside from being an entirely new chapter in life itself, it’s also a time when health issues may come up.  

So as fun as it is to no longer have to work, retirement does come with its own set of stressors. 

But if you have a practice that keeps your mind calm and your heart happy, you can handle changes and challenges in a peaceful way. 

Roselle Umlas

Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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