How to Emotionally Handle Retirement

by Indiana Retired Teachers Association | September 10, 2019

Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that you were a recent college graduate and a young educator ready to make a difference.

You have since taught hundreds of lessons, poured over countless tests and worked tirelessly to help young people learn.

And now, you are considering retirement. That thought can be unnerving.

If you have planned properly, your financial picture should be clear for your post-retirement years.

But what about your emotional needs? Have you thought about the psychological impact of ending your career?

According to a survey by Ameriprise Financial, 37 percent of recently retired Baby Boomers miss the daily socialization with colleagues. Nearly a third of the respondents (32 percent) said they had a difficult time getting used to retirement.

So, how do you deal with your feelings during this significant life change?

Here are some tips:

Ease into retirement. Some people can quit work cold turkey. Others cannot. You might consider working in education part time. If you taught elementary school, you could work one or two days per week at a preschool or day care center. If you taught high school students, you could teach one class per semester at a local community college.

Discover your new purpose. We are programmed to contribute to society. You became a teacher because you care about others. Sometimes, new retirees see themselves as no longer useful. Fuel your passion to help others by volunteering. Research and join a cause that makes a difference in your community. If you find yourself struggling, contact a counselor who can help you process your feelings and help you get involved.

Get yourself socially connected. Let’s face it – your friends at work got you through the weeks, months and years. Avoid sitting at home all day watching television. Join a service club, regularly meet friends for lunch or organize a community project.

Connect and reconnect with family. Being an educator often took time away from them. Now is the perfect time to spend quality time. You don’t have to take expensive trips. Being together at a cookout, a family hike or a ballgame will bring you closer.

Exercise. Take long walks every day possible. Join exercise classes at a local gym or have a trainer help you with an appropriate routine. Not only does exercise help you live longer, it greatly enhances your mental health.

Keep learning. Your brain also needs constant exercise and challenge. Maybe you always wanted to paint or play the guitar. Check out free classes offered by your library or community center. Take a community college class on a topic that fascinates you.

Travel. Go to the places that you studied in your classrooms. The anticipation and excitement of visiting a new city or foreign country help keep you young at heart.

Enjoy the benefits of your age. Yes, the knees and back don’t work as well as your younger days. But age provides great wisdom and perspective. Share those gifts as often as possible with your family, friends and community. Write a blog about your life’s experiences as a way to help others find peace and purpose.

The quality of your retirement years will depend on how much time you invest in it. Life can be as exciting, if not more rewarding, as those days in your classroom. 

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