What Are the Negative Effects of Retirement on Mental Health?

What exciting visions did you once have of retirement? Did you imagine one-way tickets to exotic destinations? Did you picture joyous bonding time with family and friends? Were you looking forward to tinkering and exploring new hobbies?

As it turns out, retirement isn’t just a long episode of bliss and freedom. It can be a jarring, difficult transition for many people, and the impact may come as a significant surprise.

If you’re on the cusp of quitting the workforce for good, understanding the negative effects of retirement allows you to plan for these obstacles in advance. If you’re already struggling, this guide can provide some reassurance and normalization that you’re not alone in how you feel.

Losing Your Daily Routine

Work may feel like a grind, but there’s often a sense of consistency attached to it. You wake up, get ready, drive to the office, complete your work, and then come home and unwind for a few hours. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It can feel monotonous, but it can also be comforting. You know what to predict- you can keep yourself on track, and you can look forward to various milestones throughout the week.

Retirement, of course, usually flips that routine inside-out. You no longer have to abide by a specific schedule, deadline, or boss’s guideline. In fact, you’re the boss now, but you’re the boss of everything. 

That change can be unnerving. Even though most of us crave freedom, we don’t necessarily know what to do with it once it’s in our hands. As a result, we may feel anxious, depressed, or even directionless.

Lack of Socialization

Many adults make meaningful friendships in the workplace. Work provides natural opportunities for connection- you might bond with someone over a project or commiserate with them over a difficult client.

Retirees face a risk of loneliness. This risk appears to be exacerbated if you have little to no outside friendships beyond work or struggle with other contributing variables like medical issues or caregiving a loved one.

In retirement, you need to make a conscious effort to maintain (or cultivate) relationships. In addition, you may need to become more involved with hobbies, volunteering, or other social activities. It’s no surprise that some people may find this task easier than others.

Lack of Purpose

It’s not uncommon to find tremendous meaning or fulfillment in your work. Leaving can, therefore, trigger a sense of hollowness and despair.

After leaving your job, you might wonder, what’s next? You may worry that you’re no longer relevant or contributing to society. This existential dilemma can trigger increased anxiety or depression. It can make you feel afraid or pessimistic when thinking about the next phase in your life.

This problem may be more common amongst retirees who devoted most of their lives to work. After all, if you didn’t find purpose in other hobbies or relationships, it makes sense that you experience an uncomfortable void now.

Financial Fears

Today, the average life expectancy is 77.8 years. Yet, no matter how well you managed your money and prepared yourself for retirement, it’s entirely possible to feel anxious about your finances.

Some people delay retirement due to money anxiety. Others move forward with their retirement plans, but they still feel cautious and concerned over every cent. Additionally, any unexpected expense may send them into a worried panic.

This anxiety can apply no matter how wealthy you are (or aren’t). For example, if you grew up without much money, you may struggle with a valid scarcity mindset. Or, if you observed other people struggle in retirement, you might worry that you’re also doomed.

Relationship Changes

Maybe you retired before your spouse, and you sense that they resent your lifestyle change. On the other hand, perhaps you’re both retired, and you have no idea how to spend time together. Whatever the circumstance, it’s reasonable to expect that your relationship with your partner may evolve during this time.

Retirement may force you to reevaluate certain aspects of your relationship. For example, maybe you and your spouse had wildly different expectations for what retirement would hold. Perhaps you two need to learn how to communicate better. Similarly, you might also need support in spending more quality time apart. 

How Therapy Can Help Combat the Negative Effects of Retirement

It’s okay if you believe retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Your feelings are valid, and it’s smart to be realistic with your expectations- after all, there are unique challenges associated with every phase of life.

With that in mind, if left untreated, these obstacles can adversely affect the quality of your life. They may also exacerbate other mental health issues.

Therapy can help you address some of the common fears associated with retirement. If you’re still working, it can support you in preparing for this significant step. If you’re already retired and needing support on your journey, we can work together to ensure that you’re able to enjoy the time you’ve earned!

Contact me today to get started.



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