Avoiding loneliness in retirement, things to try that may help

Worked hard your whole life and looking forward to finally putting your feet up and enjoying many happy years in retirement? Of course! That said, it is understandable that you might also be feeling a little apprehensive about adjusting to this new phase in life.

Some of you may miss the routine of work, as well as the structure and purpose this gave each day. Many may also miss the social side of working – building relationships with colleagues you’ve seen day in, day out for years. Couple this with the fact you might have family that live too far away to see regularly, and it’s unsurprising you might be worried about experiencing loneliness in retirement.

But you needn’t worry. Retirement can present the perfect opportunity to reimagine and reinvent your life. With retirement comes a newfound freedom to shape your days as you wish.

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With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help keep loneliness at bay...

1. Get into a routine

There is no need to overfill your diary, but getting up at roughly the same time each day and getting into a routine is a good way to stop inertia setting in. Be productive and make a plan for the week ahead – be it a course, an appointment, a spot of gardening, or a lunch out – and stick to it. 

2. Find your passion

With the luxury of time to do all the things you may have put off whilst working, ask yourself – what do you want to achieve? Do you want to travel, write, create, teach, spend more time with grandkids, volunteer, or just have more fun? Whatever it is, follow your passion.

3. Keep active 

The benefits of exercise later in life cannot be over-emphasised. As well as being good for your mental and physical health, it can be a great way to meet new people too. There's no need to run a marathon – a gentle walk the around the local village park is a great way to kick-start a fitness routine, for example.

4. Learn something new

Keep your mind sharp by joining a local class. Learn a language, a musical instrument, or take up a new craft to add an extra string to your bow.

5. Connect with people

Make an effort! Research shows that a sense of social connection can have a hugely positive effect on reducing the risk of dementia and improving overall health and well-being.

6. Give back

There are lots of opportunities to help in your local area, from volunteering at charity shops and animal shelters, to assisting at community centres and gardens. Not only does it enable you to give back, it's also a great way to meet people interested in the same things as you.

7. Go online

While online friendships can never replace the intimacy of face-to-face interactions, there are endless online groups which can offer you a real connection to others. Online dating sites can be a great way to find romance. And social media is useful tool for staying in contact with family and friends that live far away.

8. Consider shared housing

You don’t have to live alone. Sharing with someone will give you daily companionship and comes with the added benefit of sharing expenses.

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Feeling lonely? Help is on hand

Ill health or disabilities - Some of you may feel isolated if you are physically unable to leave your home without a massive effort or help from someone else. But remember, there are plenty of online communities ready and willing to offer you support, a laugh, or even a virtual hug.

Bereavement or divorce - Understandably, some people feel lonely after losing a partner. Talking to family, friends, support organisations or even others who are in similar positions can be incredibly helpful.  

Loneliness and depression - Loneliness has been identified as a major risk factor for depression. If you feel yourself becoming depressed, it's important to tell someone. Friends, family members or GPs are there to listen and advise, and there is no shame in asking for help.

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And remember… Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. Having time by yourself means being able to please yourself. You choose how, when and where you spend your time. It’s life on your own terms, and embracing this freedom can be hugely empowering.

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