The past year has been a whirlwind of a ride for most during retirement. Many individuals are navigating their new normal. While most retirees are looking forward to spending their time going on vacations, adventures, and living life – that was put on hold for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created countless challenges with daily life, and it comes as no surprise that so many people are experiencing emotional and mental exhaustion. Numerous studies have shown that the pandemic has increased anxiety, depression, stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for different age groups.
But what the studies have also revealed is that one population in particular — older adults — seems to be coping better with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“One of the most resilient groups of people is older adults,” says Maureen Nash, MD, MS, medical director, Providence ElderPlace PACE Oregon. “They have a lifetime of overcoming challenging and difficult situations and the only way to get through that is by being resilient.”
Adults have had to change their life plans during COVID. However, older adults tend to be less stressed upon retirement, which allows them to live a healthier life.
Several studies published over the last year have underlined this concept.
- An August 2020 survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed adults aged 65 and older were less likely to have anxiety, depression, and trauma or stress-related disorder (TSRD) than people in younger age groups.
- A study in Spain revealed that adults aged 60-80 had lower rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than adults age 40-59.
- When asked to keep a diary about daily stressors, events, and the virus’ emotional impact, adults over age 60 more often reported positive events and emotions. The respondents included 776 adults from the U.S. and Canada.
- A study in the Netherlands showed that, although loneliness increased during the pandemic, adults over age 65 didn’t see a big change in mental health. 
Finding Your Purpose
When you retire, consider taking up hobbies that promote a stress-free life. Spend your time exercising, picking up a new hobby, or spending time with family and friends.
Remember that the road to resilience may involve a considerable amount of emotional distress. With that in mind, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Make healthy connections with others — mindful, trusted and intimate relationships can boost your levels of happiness and improve your immune system.
- Avoid seeing crises as impossible problems and accept that change is a part of life.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Journaling and meditation can reveal aspects about yourself, like your strengths and opportunities for growth.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself and spend time with others who share that view. Daily affirmations can help.
- Keep things in perspective when facing challenges and if you feel overwhelmed, reach out to others.
- Be proactive and take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
To learn more about purpose and wellness during retirement, check out the Center for a Secure Retirement.
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