As some of the pandemic restrictions are slowly lifting you can feel a big shared sign of relief.
As people slowly return to some of their regular activities (even though modified either through social distancing or wearing of masks), it would be a shame if we didn’t look for some lessons that we may have learned during this experience.
And this includes retirement.
During the time we were all sheltering in place, there are a number of different things that this pandemic could possibly teach us about how we may actually live in retirement. Here’s how;
Were you bored?
While staying at home, many of us had a great deal of extra time on our hands. But how did you feel about having this time? Were you bored?
Often the beauty of retirement is having the time to do what you like. So if you go from a full time job to nothing but time – as much as this may seem like a great thing it can actually be a challenge if you don’t have anything planned to do. You could just end up withering away your time which may leave you feeling bored or even worst case depressed.
So, if you were bored during this time of isolation consider why.
Did you not have enough interests to keep you busy? Did you have the motivation to get things done? If you didn’t, this may be an indicator that you may want to start developing some hobbies or activities that will keep you actively engaged after you finish your work life.
Did you talk and connect with people outside work?
Research has found that staying socially connected is critical to aging well. So, while you were in isolation, did you connect with anyone beyond your immediate family and work colleagues?
This is important. As many people have social networks at work but when they leave, they disappear leaving them isolated and lonely.
So here’s a test for you. Did you connect with at least eight people outside of your work relationships during this time? If you didn’t, could you actually list eight people in your personal social network?
If you couldn’t, this is may be something you may want to consider developing before you retire.
Did you exercise?
While in isolation, did you exercise or did you spend your time possibly binge watching television series or mindlessly scanning your social media feeds?
Everyone hopefully knows how important exercise is to healthy aging. However people often use the excuse that they don’t have enough time to do it. So, with this extra time you had did you actually take advantage of it and exercise?
If you didn’t, you may want to think about this especially if you often use not having enough time as your excuse. You may need to find some extra motivation to get you moving.
Did you cook healthy meals?
Along with exercise, healthy nutritious meals are also a key requirement to aging well. During the pandemic, some food manufacturers found they had a 500% demand increase given the number of people who were now cooking at home rather then going out.
So chances are you cooked at home - and probably a lot - during this time.
But what type of meals did you cook? Were they healthy and nutritious or were they really not that great? Did you find yourself joining the quarantine fifteen club (people who put on fifteen pounds while in isolation) or are you going to come through this situation healthy and feeling good?
This experience may be a foreshadow to what your cooking and eating practices may be like in retirement given that you had extra time on your hands to plan and cook your meals.
Were your relationships positive?
If you were spending an extended amount of your time living with a partner or spouse, how was your relationship? Did you get along well or did you get on each other’s nerves?
This could be an indication of how well you may work together in retirement when you have additional time to spend with each other. It may give you some idea of what interests you shared and where you may have had differences.
So if you found yourself just pining for when you would be able to get away from each other you may want to give this some thought as to why. It may also present you the opportunity to talk about retirement and what you both hope to do when you do retire to make sure that you are aligned.
Of course your experience during the pandemic was not actually retirement. This was a very different situation that had significant human risks and consequences. But some of the activities you did during this crisis may give you a glimpse into how you may behave in retirement. So if this results in you changing something for the better as you prepare for your own retirement, then this life experience may have had some positive impact.
And we all could use something positive about now.