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How to Prepare for Retirement Without Freaking Out

People worry about retirement because it’s a great unknown. It’s like walking down a lighted hallway and turning into a dark room. You’ve never been there so it’s scary. That’s normal. Want to prepare for retirement without freaking out? You need a total retirement plan. Having a plan for anything reduces our anxiety. It gives us a greater sense of control and with that comes less worry and more confidence about the future and this is especially important when it comes to retirement. After all, it’s the next phase of your life that could last for 30 years or more.

A total retirement plan is more than just the financial numbers. Much more. So while it’s important to look at all the financial aspects of your life, it’s just as important (if not more so) to also plan for the non-financial aspects of the next phase of your life.

In a recent publication titled “Retirement Health and Happiness” the Society of Actuaries suggests there are two things you can do to increase your retirement happiness: stay emotionally and physically healthy.

Emotional Health

Did you know that retirement increases a person’s risk of clinical depression by 40%?  Two of the best ways to stay emotionally healthy are:

Stay Socially Connected

This is a challenge for many men especially. As the report states, “Women tend to have stronger social networks than men, which may contribute to longer, healthier lives.” To stay connected socially, you can join a club, association or religious organization; find part-time work for the social aspect; consider moving closer to family or friends.

Pursue a Passion

We like to tell pre-retirees that they need to look forward to jumping out of bed each day. So find something you are passionate about. You can volunteer, become a community organizer, join a professional organization, learn a new skill, or master a hobby.

Physical Healthy

The old saying that “if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything” is so true. So how do you stay physically healthy? There are two ways and one without the other is not enough:

Stay active

Did you know that according to some studies, each hour you spend watching TV could deduct 22 minutes from your life expectancy? One study showed that the average retiree spends a whopping 43.5 hours per week watching TV. So plan to get going. If you have a green thumb, tackle yard work or join a garden group; join a gym or yoga class; find a buddy to walk with every day; walk, jog or ride a bike or get involved in any recreational activities you enjoy.

Eat Healthy

Make no mistake: healthy eating increases longevity and improves lifestyle. Yet, most retirees will continue their pre-retirement eating habits or even adopt less healthy eating habits! So if you’re worried about enjoying retirement, you need to start building healthy eating habits before you retire. You know the drill: eat more fresh, non-processed food; increase portions of fish, lean meats, fruits and vegetables; reduce fat, salt and sugar intake. If you need help developing a smart eating plan that you can stick with, see a dietician and stay away from fad diets and eating plans.

Bottom line: if you want to stop worrying about retirement, create a total retirement plan that includes a plan for emotional and physical health as well as financial health.