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?
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