Dealing With Isolation After Leaving Your Job
The average person spends an estimated 90,000 hours of his or her life at work. Since more time is spent with co-workers than family, friends, and sometimes even spouses, it’s not surprising that most relationships develop during business hours.
When older adults retire or leave their job, their interaction with longtime friends and colleagues is suddenly cut short. With a drastic increase in free time during the day and fewer people to talk to, it’s natural for feelings of isolation to set in.
It’s important to nip those feelings in the bud before they lead to depression or far worse thoughts. The best way to do this is to plan for how you’d like to spend your time in retirement BEFORE you actually retire. Think about how you’d like to fill your days and slowly start to explore by taking a class, doing some volunteer work, or joining a club. Beginning to lay the foundation for your retirement life while you are still working can make the transition easier. It is also a way to start building up your informal support network through developing new friendships with people who have similar interests as your own. These new friendships can replace the potential gaps where your work buddies once filled.
If you’ve recently left your job, either by early retirement or being laid off, you may go through a period of isolation. Here are some suggestions to remain active in all your free time.
Join Different Groups
The best way to fight feelings of isolation is to leave the house and meet people, but friends and family don’t always have the time and your spouse might still be actively employed. Getting involved in social groups, preferably more than just one means not only interacting with new people– but filling the suddenly large gaps of free time in the day.
There are tons of groups and organizations for all areas of interest, and scouting them out is a breeze. Keep an eye on the community events boards at the local library, gym or church, or do a quick search online. Check out this list of online tools to start building a regional network for your favorite interest or hobby.
And if you can’t find a group that works for your specific interests, simply create one! By following these easy steps, you can have your own club up and running in no time.
Don’t let the decades of experience in your field of expertise go to waste. Consider being a mentor to kids just joining the workforce. Websites like MicroMentor are dedicated to connecting mentors with interested people.
If mentoring one-on-one isn’t ideal, consider teaching a course at a local college, learning center or library.
Exercise (And Not Just for Health)
Physicians recommend at least 20 minutes of exercise per day for older adults to age well, but going to the gym can provide more than just health benefits.
Fitness centers are a wonderful place to establish new relationships. Many gym-goers fit their exercise into a scheduled routine, so the chances of running into the same people day-after-day are very likely.
Physical exercise not your thing? Not a problem! Many fitness centers have evolved into community centers where people congregate even if they’re not working up a sweat. Check your gym for classes, lectures or gatherings that bring together other like-minded people. Better yet, check out Friend’s Life Care’s VigR program – a free and public wellness program, all without the hassle of a fitness membership!
Find A Different Job in A New Field
Sure, the socially constructed idea behind retirement is to stop working altogether – but what works for some may not be ideal for others. Maybe your goal for retirement is to simply cut back, or take a less demanding role in a field you’ve always hoped to explore.
Finding a part-time job is a suitable way to beat feelings of isolation while earning extra bucks in case of emergency. There are plenty of opportunities for part-time and seasonal employment and mingling with new and different people is never a bad idea. Best of all, if the job is not exactly what you were looking for at this point in your life, you can just quit and try something else.
If you haven’t planned for it, life after retirement can be a challenge. Cutting ties with your everyday routine, missing interactions with familiar faces, and dealing with newly found downtime can easily lead to isolation. However, combatting this issue can be easy. Whether you get involved in a social organization, become a mentor, join a gym, or take on a part-time job, you’ll be sure to keep seclusion at bay. And, who knows, you may discover a whole new side of yourself as you craft your days doing the things that bring you joy!
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