3 Ways To Improve Your Psychological Well-Being in Retirement

In this episode of our retirement coaching series, Jeremy Keil speaks with Dorian Mintzer, Ph.D., BCC, CPRC, retirement coach, therapist, owner of Revolutionize Retirement, and co-author of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together. They discuss ways to improve your psychological well-being in retirement.

Dorian discusses:

  • Retirement coaching vs. therapy — when should you reach out for help
  • How to best manage your time in retirement (alone and with others)
  • Difficult conversations you must have to improve your relationships
  • How to find and embrace your “new identity” when you’re no longer working
  • And more

How To Improve Your Psychological Well-being in Retirement

1. Your Time

Full-time work or active parenting gives you a reason to get up in the morning. It adds structure to your daily routine.

However, this might change as you enter retirement.

So, it’s important to figure out how you want to spend your time — whether it’s alone or with others.

A key component of managing your time is managing expectations. Your partner or friends might expect you to spend most of your time with them. Your children might expect you to help take care of your grandchildren.

But ask yourself: What’s YOUR vision? How much “alone time” would you like to spend?

Understand that you and your partner won’t always have 100% alignment of interests — and you don’t have to do everything together.

Separate your time alone from time with other people.

2. Your Relationships

Building and maintaining relationships is key to improving your psychological well-being in retirement.

If you want to forge better relationships, don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations, whether they are with your partner, your family, your friends, or even yourself!

Dorian Mintzer shares excellent tips to make difficult conversations easier. She summarizes them using the acronym BLAST:

  • Blaming and shaming get in the way. Avoid statements like “You made me feel…” or “You didn’t do this…” and use “I” statements in your conversations. For example: I am curious, I wonder, I believe…, etc.
  • Listen without interrupting. Don’t be in a hurry to respond. Listen to the words and don’t just interpret it to fit your own view.
  • Appreciate what you hear (even if you disagree), and don’t make assumptions. Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is the best way to resolve a conflict.
  • Set a safe space to talk. For example, during a walk, in the car, at home, in a restaurant over dinner, etc. Also, set a time limit. This helps you stay focused on the issues at hand, and you can come back to the conversation at a later time.
  • Talk without distractions. Turn off the phone. Turn off the computer. Turn off the TV. Be focused in the present.

No one likes to talk about what will happen if they get ill or become disabled. However, these are crucial “what-ifs” that you should discuss with your loved ones. They lay the foundation for stronger relationships.

Plus, it can be immensely liberating to have these conversations!

The Conversation Project is a great resource that provides a free starter kit with some videos on how to have difficult conversations. Check it out!

3. Your Identity

Who are you when you’re no longer working? Who are you when you’re not an active parent?

It is common for retirees to face an identity crisis. Many people wonder, “How do I want to be referred to? Am I a senior? Am I an elder?”

But instead of worrying about getting older, embrace that you’re becoming wiser. You now have a lot of wisdom and great stories to share! This sense of gratitude can be life-changing. It can help you overcome your identity crisis. It helps you feel great from within!

Learn more about valuing yourself as an elder at Sage-ing® International.

Related: 5 Things To Know Before Buying Home or Auto Insurance