Here at Wealth Matters, our priority is working with our clients to help them achieve financial freedom. It’s a noble and highly attainable goal – who among us wouldn’t love to spend less of their lives working and more of it living?

However, as with any major life change, retirement can bring with it a raft of more difficult emotions. As your routine shifts from very structured to incredibly open, and your purpose is no longer ‘working person with professional responsibilities’, but rather ‘person of leisure’, you are likely to find this transition difficult unless you know what you’re retiring to as well as from. This is a crucial part of the process and its importance cannot be overstated.

Without purpose and structure, no matter how loose that structure may be, you are likely to become susceptible to reduced mental wellbeing.

What is mental wellbeing and why is it important?

Just as you would pay attention to and care for your physical health, so too should you for the health of your mind and your emotions. Every person alive has mental health, just as they also have physical health.

It’s only when mental health declines that issues arise. This is known as ‘mental ill health’, or ‘poor mental health’. This can take many forms, but some of the most common and recognisable are stress, anxiety, and depression.

There are likely to be periods in your life in which you have experienced, or will experience, short periods of mental ill health. Experiences of loss, hardship, and high stress are often the cause in these cases, and the episode tends to resolve as these problems are alleviated either through action or time. This is the most common way that people experience mental ill health.

For others, mental ill health is an ongoing, long-term problem caused by a variety of factors and/or chemical imbalance in the brain. In both cases, poor mental wellbeing affects how a person perceives themselves, the world, and their life within it.

Speaking openly about mental health is a relatively new (but very positive) cultural development. It’s okay if you can’t comprehend the ins and outs of it, but it will mean a great deal to the people in your life who may be suffering if you can, at the very least, understand this: some people find it more difficult than others to navigate through the world, and for those people, it can be very distressing, frustrating, and lonely.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

For many people, mental wellbeing is tied to having a clear sense of purpose, a good quality of life, and a secure living environment. It’s very common for your mental health to take a hit when you experience significant life changes, periods of transition, and disruption. This could include the death of a loved one, downsizing your home, changing jobs, ill health, and, of course, retirement.

When preparing your financial plan, you will be thinking in depth for perhaps the first time about exactly what it is that you truly enjoy and want to fill your time with. This is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that, in addition to the exciting trips and big ticket items, you think about your day-to-day life too.

Plan for a retirement that you feel excited for, of course, but don’t forget to make sure that it feels fulfilling and purposeful, too. Change can be frightening and unsettling, but it doesn’t need to be. Having a clear plan and strategy will mean you’re well-positioned for whatever life might throw at you and can give you a sense of control in turbulent times.

Tips for success

It’s never too early to start thinking about your retirement, and your mental wellbeing therein. Here are a few tips on how to start thinking about a mentally fulfilling retirement.

  • Write a bucket list. A bucket list is a great place to get all your ideas out on paper, no matter how big or small. It’s a chance to get really creative and think outside of the box. What matters most to you? What do you want to do more of? What would you like to experience perhaps for the first time? You might find that you identify a hobby or two in this exercise that inspires you to pursue it further.
  • Have frank conversations with your loved ones about what your (and their) ideal future looks like. It’s important to be on the same page about your plans, particularly with your spouse, to avoid any unnecessary disappointment further down the line. You might discover that, actually, your ideas of a perfect retirement are quite different – that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
     
    For example, if you know in advance that your partner doesn’t at all share your desire to campervan around Europe, you could plan to instead take those trips with a close friend or sibling. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could find and join a group of campervan travel enthusiasts and go on a group trip with your newfound friends. If you waited until retirement to make this discovery, you may end up both disappointed and a little resentful about what you’re missing out on.

  • Keep active. We all know that staying active does wonders for our overall health, but it’s particularly proven to have excellent benefits for your mental wellbeing too. A gentle walk or swim counts just as much as a more strenuous workout.
  • Stay connected. The loneliness epidemic soared during the pandemic. As we all discovered when we were suddenly working from home, spending the majority of your time with little to no in-person human interaction does not feel good at all. It’s a recipe for mental ill health. The transition from everyday interactions in the workplace to a quiet home in retirement drastically reduces the amount of socialisation you will encounter in your day-to-day life, so you must be intentional about maintaining it.
  • Understand the signs and symptoms of mental ill health. If you notice them early, either in yourself or a loved one, you can act on them before it reaches a point where it feels too difficult to address them.
  • Enlist the help of an independent financial planner. Whilst you can (and should) start thinking about all these things on your own, working with a professional to build and implement a robust, bespoke financial plan will instil you with peace of mind that it’s all being taken care of. The future you’ve planned for is well within reach, and you can relax and enjoy the ride until that time.
What next?

If you would like to speak to an independent financial planner about your plans for your retirement, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can be reached by phone on 01582 720511 from Monday-Friday, 9:00 until 17:00, and via email on info@wealth-matters.co.uk.