Retirement is the perfect time to boost your health and prioritize your wellness. You have extra time to hit the gym and can spend your newfound freedom socializing with friends.
Even if you dodge these high-profile bad habits, you may still be at risk of developing routines that wreck your health. It’s all too easy to make poor dietary choices, stay up too late, and isolate yourself from others when you enter retirement.
Overcoming these bad habits is key if you want to promote positive aging and get the most out of your golden years.
The dangerous side effects of smoking are well-recorded in the medical literature. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes increases your risk of negative health outcomes like:
● Heart disease
● Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Smoking also increases your risk of developing tuberculosis and undermines the strength of your immune system. The CDC estimates that smoking causes over 480,000 deaths per year, despite the fact that fewer people are lighting up than ever before.
Similarly, alcohol has a net negative effect on your body. Despite claims that a glass of red wine can improve your health, the World Health Organization finds that no level of alcohol is safe. Drinking regularly increases your risk of developing cancer and even light consumption can result in developing diabetes.
Giving up smoking or drinking can be tough if you’ve spent your life consuming these substances. Fortunately, there’s more support available than ever before to help you beat your bad habit. Get the ball rolling by speaking to your primary care physician. They can help you connect with experts in the field and overcome your addiction.
Sleep is a serious issue when you enter later life. Failing to get enough sleep can result in memory loss, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Skipping sleep can lead to negative mental health outcomes like depression, anxiety, and impulsive behavior.
Conversely, sleeping too much is also bad for your health. This can be a real issue if you are bored, sick, or overly fatigued during the day. Oversleeping may be linked to:
● Type 2 diabetes
Additionally, oversleeping can cause you to miss out on social activities and may throw your circadian rhythm out of line. This can put a real dent in your wellness and make life much more difficult in retirement.
Try to reassert control over your sleep schedule by finding morning activities that you enjoy. These morning activities will give you the motivation to get in bed early and will ensure that you don’t oversleep. If this doesn’t work, consider speaking to a sleep expert who may be able to suggest sleep hygiene improvements that are relevant to you.
Social isolation is a serious issue for retirees. Even in later life, you still benefit from finding new friends and engaging in interesting social activities. Unfortunately, your social circle might start to thin out during retirement. This is entirely normal, as many folks rely on the routine of work to meet people and make new friends.
Retirement living communities can help you combat isolation and meet like-minded folks. This sentiment is echoed by Eric Avery, Ph.D. and senior living consultant for our Capital Oaks Retirement Resort. Avery suggests engaging in social activities like:
● Attend and participate in clubs
● Consider getting a pet
● Try adaptive technology to improve the quality of your time with others
● Take classes to continue your education
● Hug your friends and family more often
These simple changes can make a world of difference if you’re feeling glum and haven’t seen anyone for a while. It may feel forced at first, but actively making new friends is a great way to broaden your horizons, overcome boredom, and optimize your wellness.
You can even plan social activities around games you enjoy. Games like Solitaire can improve your cognitive health and can reverse some early signs of subjective cognitive decline (SCD). Playing card games with friends can improve your working memory, strengthen your social bonds, and give you the intellectual stimulation you need.
An unhealthy, ultra-processed diet will tank your health and dramatically increase your risk of illness. Poor dietary choices can lead to illnesses like scurvy, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Regular consumption of refined foods can damage your gut microbiome and lead to digestive issues, too.
If you do struggle with digestive issues, consider eating a diet that minimizes acid reflux. In general, you’ll want to avoid dairy, coffee, alcohol, and fried or fast foods. You’ll need to keep a food diary to get a better understanding of your triggers and should make changes based on your physician’s research and recommendations.
Optimizing your wellness in retirement is a great way to improve your health and happiness in later life. Even subtle changes, like getting an extra hour of sleep, can dramatically improve your energy and help you fight off chronic conditions. Try to build a social calendar that suits your needs, too, as spending time with others is one of the best things you can do to improve your health in your golden years.