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After years of hard work, retirement can come with a huge sense of accomplishment. After a job well done, you’ve crossed the finish line of your long career and/or getting to bear witness to your children’s successful adult lives. However, the golden years can also bring isolation and sudden loss of purpose, without coworkers and a full house you once enjoyed for so many years. It’s ok to feel a sense of loss, but it isn’t healthy to dwell in negativity. Instead, you can take a few proactive steps to turn your second act into one full of happiness and meaning. Here are four steps to retirement planning for a more joyful today and tomorrow.

Remember the Past

This might seem counterintuitive given that you’re starting a new chapter of your life, but nostalgia can evoke powerful feelings and even help you discover what makes you happiest. Studies have shown that reminiscing in a group, individually, or with a counselor quickly alleviated depression in elders. One study, in particular, found that working through memories can, “facilitate pleasure, quality of life, or adaptation to present circumstances” by increasing self-esteem and allowing you to focus on what makes you unique.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Once you’ve identified the sources of past happiness, you can try to bring those sources of joy into your present. What was it about your career that you found especially motivating or satisfying? A part time job or volunteer work may be one way to put your hard-earned skills and wealth of experience to good use. Or if you enjoyed having a busy life outside the home, you might find connection and participation in other areas, such as community, political, or spiritual involvement. It could be as simple as choosing to join a senior living community, such as Regency Retirement Village of Jackson, as opposed to living alone.

Stay Active

Jackson seniors bikingNo matter what it is that makes you uniquely happy, some level of physical activity will help boost that sense of satisfaction. Regency Retirement Village of Jackson offers all kinds of opportunities to get moving, from Zumba Chair Fitness to Afternoon Stretching to Group Exercise classes. Or you could do something on your own, from enjoying a bike ride at the University of Tennessee campus arboretum to fishing at Lake Graham. Studies have shown that exercise helps our bodies release hormones that increase feelings of positivity. Not only that, but staying active will help you enjoy life to the fullest.

Trying Something New

They may say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but scientific research suggests the opposite is actually true! Psychologist Rich Walker looked thousands of diaries and recounts of personal events and found that people who have lived a variety of experiences are generally happier. It’s never too late to try something new, whether it’s an unfamiliar restaurant or food, a new route around town, different TV shows or sports events, or even traveling to somewhere unexpected! It’s easy to get into a routine when you’re working or raising small children, but one of the wonderful things about retirement is that you have the luxury of free time to try new things you might not have had the chance to before.

If living at home has you feeling bored or cooped up, it might be time to consider a senior living community. It makes it so much easier to check off many of the items on this list. By surrounding yourself with caring neighbors and living somewhere with a full activity schedule, you can make savoring your senior years as easy as shouting “Bingo!” If you’d like to learn more, call us at 731-661-9888.

Written by: Meghan O’Dea