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01 May 2024

Life re-starts at retirement

For today’s work life alumni, retirement has changed significantly since their parents’ day. There’s greater uncertainty about the future and new retirees are exposed to a greater choice about when and how to retire, or whether to retire at all.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. What’s true for many new retirees, though, is that stopping work can be a difficult transition. It’s about re-starting life at later age – it may sound exciting, almost adventurous, but research and word of mouth tell us it can be quite challenging and nerve-racking for some, especially for those retirement ‘freshers’ who don’t enjoy change as much.

This is why we’ve pulled together our top tips to help ease you into your retirement and enrich your experiences.


An ongoing study by Harvard University, found that the number one key to a happy life is ‘social fitness’. The most consistent finding the researchers reported on is that positive relationships keep us happier, healthier and help us live longer. The same study found that retirees don’t miss working, they miss the people. It said the number one challenge people face in retirement is not being able to cultivate and replace the social connections they had while they were working.

We are social creatures who thrive on companionship, but as we get older and our lives get busier, relationships can be difficult to maintain. As we all know, plants need watering to flourish, and so do our relationships. Here are a few ideas for you to consider if you think you might benefit from enriching your social life:

  • Give old friends a call

    It could’ve been 20 years, 10, or even 1, since you last got together and in the quieter moments, you may find yourself wondering about them. A recent study of more than 5,900 people found that people often underestimate how much old friends appreciate hearing from them. You could spend the rest of your lives creating new memories together. What have you got to lose?

  • Seek out exciting experiences with friends and partners

    Think of your most spontaneous moments over the years. Maybe you hopped on a train with your best friend without checking the destination. Perhaps when you heard ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ at parties, everyone mistook you for Patrick Swayze. Make things exciting by trying new activities with friends and partners, things neither of you has done before. Mutual vulnerability opens new avenues for connection.

  • Take a walk with a friendly face
    Research shows that 30 minutes of walking with another person boosts your mood, improves your health and staves off chronic conditions. Having a positive conversation with another person releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Coupled with the endorphins released by light exercise and nature’s gifts to the senses, you’ll anticipate your next walk before this one’s over.

Keep active and stay healthy

It’s a myth that retirement is a passive stage of life. It’s actually quite the opposite for a lot of people but the key is proactivity – it’s up to you to make stuff happen and to stay physically and mentally sharp as you enter this new phase of life.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May) and this year’s theme is Movement: Moving more for our mental health. Staying active is scientifically proven to boost your mood, improve your sleep and your energy levels. Exercising looks different for everyone. It could be as simple as standing up from your chair regularly and walking between rooms, a 20-minute walk in the park to breathe in the fresh air, going for a run or doing a fitness class either at home or at the gym.

Research shows you’re more likely to stick to exercise if it’s part of your routine. You could walk to the shops instead of taking the bus, or join an exercise class. You might be surprised at how much healthier and happier you feel!

Expand your horizons

Life keeps evolving even when your working days are over. It might be that you may want to try a new hobby, or to pursue a passion you simply hadn’t had the time for so far, or it might be that you want to dedicate some of your time to charitable work and volunteering. Whatever route you go down, remember each new interest or activity can open doors and expand your horizons in unexpected ways.

Once you’re past the inevitable ‘honeymoon phase’ of retirement and you’ve ticked some quick wins you’ve been patiently waiting for while still working, a burst of boredom may strike. Use this quiet time for self-reflection. It presents a great opportunity to clarify your priorities, re-evaluate your lifestyle and sense of purpose, and think about what you may want to fill in your free time with.