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Expert tips for enjoying life after 50

Psychological problems associated with growing old

Beware of regret. The following phrases have a lot of meaning in them:
If  I could have my life over again
I would not take life so seriously
I would travel more and visit more interesting places
I would play with children more often
I would come to rest more and I make more time to smell the roses
I would express love more often – to my fellow human beings, and to those nearest to me, especially   
but the irony is, I cannot have my life over again.

However, the lesson we can all learn from the piece above, is that we should be proactive and do those things while we still can. If we postpone, we may never have the opportunity.

Your Prime Time, is the last phase of your life. There are many reasons why it should be the happiest and most fulfilled time of your life.
For instance…

  • you now have all the free time you need to do all those things you always wanted to do but never had time for,
  • you usually have less pressure and stress on your shoulders,
  • you (hopefully) have saved enough money to finance many pleasurable things without having to keep on working for your money.  You often can afford things now which you couldn’t  when you were younger and had many obligations to attend to.

 

Yet your happiness during your retirement still remains a matter of cause and effect. That means it will only be a happy time if you deliberately plan for it and do the right things well in time and also avoid doing the things that may spoil your happiness.

It is my purpose to make you aware of these realities and to provide you with guidance on how to plan, and information on what to do and what not to do in order to arrive at happiness and fulfilment.

It is also being said that your adjustment to retirement is psychologically and emotionally one of the most difficult periods of your life.

Some of the realities you have to adjust to are:

  • All of a sudden you become redundant at your work
  • Suddenly you’re not needed anymore
  • Your self-image takes a serious knock
  • You lose the status you enjoyed in your work
  • You lose many of your friends who were work related
  • You lose the income you received every month and if you haven’t saved up sufficient funds to replace it
  • Your security may become seriously compromised

You are soon going to have lots of additional free time on your hands.  This can either bring happiness to you or boredom if you don’t manage it well. Boredom is one of the root causes of depression especially if it is coupled with a knock of your self-mage.

Most of the above realities can easily lead to depression if you do not manage them well.

You may also find that your health situation may start to deteriorate as you grow older. As said before, it is often expressed as “the distant enemies becoming houseguests”.

At what age this will be happening to you and how serious it may be, will be heavily influenced by the lifestyle you lived when you were younger. Many diseases can be delayed for a long time as you grow older provided you live a healthy lifestyle while you are younger.

How should you look after your mental health?

The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, came to the conclusion already 100 years before the birth of Chris:

  • That people do not become disturbed emotionally and they do not attract depression because of the things they experience in  life.
  • It rather depends on how they perceive it – proverbially the glasses through which they look at it.

If we can therefore learn how to manage our mind to acquire the ability to perceive what happens to us in a positive and constructive light, we have gone a long way to prevent depression.

Worries seem to be part of our lives whether we like it or not.
We tend to worry
about things such as the following:

  • Our health situation
  • Whether our nest egg is sufficient to provide our living needs
  • Our relationship with our family and friends
  • Our deteriorating bodily functions and our fitness
  • There may be many other things you may worry about. Many of these are not even justified.

Worry and anxiety go hand-in-hand with depression.  The danger is that negative thinking and anxiety may build up a negative momentum in your thinking which may tend to pull you into a depression. To prevent it, you should condition your thinking and not to allow it to gain a negative momentum.
Healthy escapist activities can also help you to prevent this.

But if you apply positive conditioning and healthy escapist activities and you still feel depressed, it may be time to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. It may be that your neurotransmitters do not function efficiently and that you need antidepressants to overcome the problem.

You should try and establish what the main causes are that may cause you to become depressed.
Here are a few:

  • self-reproachment
  • blaming of others
  • self blame
  • negative perceptions and thoughts of vengeance against others
  • feelings of powerlessness especially when you experience unfairness against you
  • constant anger and hostility in your subconscious mind
  • to feel threatened and anxious about certain expected events

Ideally medication should be taken only temporarily. You don’t just want a ‘quick fix’ to make you feel better.  You want to get better in the long term. It has been found that cognitive treatment i.e. managing your thinking processes, has a better chance to help you to get better and stay better in the long term. There are however, exceptional cases where patients are put on antidepressants and then have to stay on it, permanently.

Retirement is often perceived as a very negative phase of people’s lives. Some people like to refer to it as to go and sit in the ‘waiting room for death’
But this perception need not be experienced – it all depends on how you manage your perception about it. Remember that you can in most cases choose your perceptions about retirement. You should guard against going into denial about the implications of retirement and old age.

Your retirement period (or your Prime Time period) as we prefer to refer to it, still have many positive things to offer. Plan to utilise and to enjoy these, focus on them and do not allow negative perceptions to enter your mind, let alone to get a grip on your thinking.
Sometimes a so-called ‘existential vacuum’ is experienced to enter your mind soon after your retirement. During this time life tends to lose its meaning and may also pull you in the direction of a depression. The safest and best way to prevent this is to be proactive and preventive and to start planning for what you are going to keep yourself busy with during your retirement, well in advance.

To summarise:
When you arrive at your retirement, be active and positive about it and keep busy. If you do land in a depression, remember that it is difficult to get out of it again. It may take a long time and may require a lot of patience from you. There may even be relapses as you grow out of it. But you may come out of it a more mature person who may be able to help others.

Please share some of your experiences…

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