Health & Wellness is one of the key “Life Domains” that I needed to explore as I worked through my retirement transition. It was interesting how many retirement books and blogs mentioned this area, although I didn’t find any that addressed it in depth. (Please let me know if you have found one!)
I found lots of references to the commonly held healthy living guidelines – 7-8 hours of sleep, 8 glasses of water every day, 10,000 steps a day, 5 fruits & veggies a day, regular check-ups with your doctor(s), the appropriate screening diagnostics/shots for your age, management of your innate health condition(s), etc. But I also found some references to other aspects of health & wellness like the spiritual side of wellness including connections to others. And the mental (brain) stimulation side of wellness, especially as you age and leave behind the highly mind-stimulating work environment.
So given my researcher/ synthesizer nature, below is my model to explore the Health & Wellness Domain in this next life stage. For me it is holistic and captures wellness of the mind, body and soul. It addresses not only the physical changes that are coming with aging, but the loss of social and mental aspects that can come when leaving a traditional work environment. And yes, many aspects of this Health & Wellness model are not independent of other Life Domains – Relationships, Community/Volunteerism, Hobbies.
|Domain Sub-Areas||My Action Spaces|
|MIND – Mental Wellness||· Mental stimulation & Lifelong learning
· Stress management
· Social connection/ interactions & intimacy
|· Brain Stimulation
· Play Often, Have Fun
· Connect with Others
|BODY – Physical Wellness||· Movement/ Physical fitness
|· Move It
· Eat Well
· Sleep Soundly
|SOUL – Spiritual Wellness||· Personal Purpose & Positivity
· Community connection/ volunteerism
· Spirituality/religious beliefs
|· Be Mindfull, Laugh Often
Here’s a bit more on a few of my personal plan action spaces
Move it – It’s about activity & physical movement, but also about strength and flexibility. Essentially, less time sitting! Even if I like to read & write, I need to balance this with being out in nature, doing yard word, or taking a walk. And yes, it’s both aerobic/cardio as well as strength training – something I am still trying to add into my weekly routine. I am exploring matching “move it” activities to my personality. As a mostly introverted personality, I am exploring solo activities like walking, biking, swimming, and weight circuits (while watching TV). Or group exercises that still allow me to be in a quiet, centered place like yoga or maybe Pilates. My slightly extrovert side however finds some interest in group sports (tennis), fitness classes (Zumba, NIA), and Meet-ups (hiking, paddle-boarding and dancing). Lots of options that I still need to build into my weekly schedule.
Eat Well – The benefits of healthy eating habits are huge – managing weight, boosting energy, reducing risk of disease. And there are so many guidelines. But, unfortunately, knowing the “rules” doesn’t make following them any easier! Here’s some I am trying:
- Don’t skip breakfast. And “coffee only” is skipping breakfast. This was a habit I got into while working since so often morning work meetings had food associated with them and I have no willpower when faced with fresh bagels. And I’m not a morning person to get up and make a real breakfast. But still, I am trying to have a morning meal everyday.
- Be more plant-based with lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains. I have a friend who swears by her 5 colorful servings of veggies a day. Yes, having carrot sticks in the fridge, apples on the counter, and freshly roasted pumpkin seeds available do help when the munchies occur!
- Minimize fats, sugars, fried foods, processed food, and carbs. Notice I said minimize versus eliminate! I love bread, french fries, pasta and a great charcuterie board. Those are food groups unto themselves, right? But I am trying to eat them more in moderation – and only really good bread, really good fries and really good pasta. Because if you’re gonna have a bad food group, have a really good bad food group! Preferably with wine, also in moderation.
- Watch portion size. Stay hydrated. I put these 2 together because to me they are both about limiting intake. When I stay hydrated and eat good food, it is easier to watch portion size. When the food is good, I want to savor it, which slows my eating and my tummy has time to tell my brain “you are full”. And I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s not that I’m hungry, but that I’m thirsty!
Brain Stimulating activities are so important as I no longer have the “daily problems to solve” activity of the workplace. I also don’t have the daily stresses and hassles of the work place, so this is not a bad trade-off. It’s been a joy to find mind-stimulating things that are fun, too. Reading, writing, and crosswords have all found their way into my regular routine. I’ve seen reference to playing music as a great mind stimulator as well, but long ago piano lessons and guitar lessons were more frustrating than joyful. I am thinking about trying chess or jewelry making. What brain stimulating things have you found?
Finding Fun – The quote “fly while you still have wings – go places, do things” really hit home for me as I spoke with some retirees that, similar to my own dad, had debilitating health issues arise quite soon after retirement, causing them to re-think their retirement years quite significantly. I know I am blessed with wings right now and I need to run & play, laugh and have fun. I’m creating the lists of places to go (both locally and globally), things to experience (events, foods, theater), hobbies to try, and areas to explore (learning), and then doing a quarterly plan. My Imagine Possibilities (see previous blog) has been useful in this aspect. And I am reaching out to others to see if they want to play with me.
Connect with Others – I knew, rationally, that many of my work-based connections would slowly disappear in retirement. Most social connections are based on convenience, whether it is school or work or where you live. And since work dominated my life, my work-based connections dominated. But the reality of the void leaving work created was bigger than anticipated. I am consciously adding in relationship generator activities (see “reach out – will you play with me” above) to establish a new “convenience” space, which I hope will lead to new connections, from support networks to friendships.
Be Mindful – As a Type A action-focused workaholic, it has been a learning experience to be more mindful, slow down, and allow the days to unfold. To me mindfulness has been to consciously take time for personal reflection with reading & journaling, becoming a learner taking classes, finding joy in a hobby where I have no mastery, and spending time in nature.
A friend who knows I’ve been looking deeply into retirement transition asked me about Aging & Health Care. And, once again, I could not point her to an in-depth review on this! I guess it comes down to know the signs/symptoms of, and get the screenings for, the common aging issues (heart health, osteoporosis, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, skin cancer, other cancers, depression, etc.). I have put “personal health check-ups” on the life maintenance plan, along with the house AC service, quarterly financial review, and car oil changes. Keep everything running smoothly.
Health & Wellness is an important domain in my Life Plan so I am being intentional in all three of its aspects (mind, body and soul) in my action plan. What is your intentional action plan in this domain?
Image credit: Pixabay.com
13 thoughts on “Healthy Living as Part of my Transition Plan”
I like your thinking..having been ” Retired” for nearly 5 years and have changed my way of living a lot I do have to keep reminding myself to get up from the screen and excercise. You are on the right path as most retirement packages do look at the financials and not at the whole picture. Have a lovely day 🙂
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That looks like a great program your’e putting together for yourself Patricia. I have been doing a course on aging and researchers have found that telomeres are lengthened, meaning less aging, by meditation and positive thinking, although they haven’t yet understood how that works. I wish I had your resolve, perhaps I will swim a bit more now the summer is coming in Sydney.
Maddy, some days it is easier to follow the program than others! But I have found that having it written down allows me to come back to the plan and recommit to it, every time I fall off it. Which unfortunately is more often than I like. Today, my “walk” got cancelled (my friend woke up not feeling well), and I am having a hard time self-motivating myself to Move It with out her! I’m thinking catching up reading blogs on the couch sounds so nice….
That’s a good thing to do Pat. I am on the laptop prevaricating about having a good clean-up!
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I love this! And completely agree with you that most retirement books focus only on the financial aspects of retirement, not, you know, the actual life parts of it! Maybe they hope that if you’re unhealthy, then you can’t outlive your money? 😉 We’ve seen via some loved ones that not everyone keeps they’re mind as active as they should in retirement, and that can have some major negative side effects. So we’re super resolved to keep forming those new neural pathways, or at least maintaining the ones we have! Love your chess idea, and that’s something we want to pick back up when we have more time on our hands. We also want to learn some new languages, and continually learn new technologies. I also think different forms of exercise can exercise your brain, too, so for us we will keep trying different types of workouts and classes that confuse our muscles and our brains. A little frustration is a good thing, we’re convinced, and is what forces us to actually grow and learn!
I have never considered the confusion of my muscles and brains. I like challenging my brain, but my muscles need the remedial programs!
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I like the quote “Fly while you still have wings” – I hadn’t heard that said before. My wife is more of a homebody than I am. I think that statement frames my notion that early retirement is an opportunity to do things that will only get more challenging the older we get.
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Acknowledging that our bodies cannot do what they used to do has been hard for me and even harder for my husband. He was the athlete – the runner, biker, rower. But we are both still fully able to walk and travel and try new things. Maybe not the marathon he always wanted to run, but there are places we want to visit and things we want to try and we need to do them while we can.
Thanks for recognizing the research behind it! I’m trying to share both the synthesis of research and then how I’m implementing against it. Always a fine line to walk.
The details in your post are quite awesome. I particularly like the “My Action Spaces” column – important words to live by! Keep the research coming!
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