Retirement often sounds like a positive prospect until it's just a year or two away. You might start to feel anxious as this major life transition looms just ahead. This feeling is normal, but it can interfere with your everyday enjoyment if you let it continue. You can find ways to relieve your worry and find meaning in this new life phase.
Anxiety is a normal feeling triggered by difficult or intimidating situations. The mind and body gear up to handle the pressure. Anxiety is usually linked to something immediate, like a family conflict, a meeting with the boss or having to find an unfamiliar destination. It can also be caused by a future situation, like pending retirement. Change makes many people uncomfortable. Retirement marks a major life transition from the working world to leisure and altered finances.
Retirement anxiety often starts a year or two before you actually leave your job. The initial anxiety is triggered by the idea of leaving your employer, especially if you've worked at the same place for many years. You may also feel nervous about your finances if your income will be sharply cut after retirement. A survey by the financial firm Merrill Lynch identified money as a top concern. The stress will continue through your actual retirement date and the adjustment period afterward.
Retirement anxiety has many causes in addition to leaving a long-time job and having an income cut. You may worry about existing or future health problems and how to occupy your extra time. You may also feel depressed about your age and a feeling that most of your life is over. You may lack a sense of purpose that makes it more difficult to find new ways to fill your days. Your motivation may be sapped because you no longer have to adhere to a work schedule.
In term of the financial independence at retirement, a large majority of Americans are concerned about retirement, and 84 percent of people polled by the National Institute on Retirement Security say the economy is impacting their ability to achieve their long-term goals. The public opinion research report, titled “Pensions and Retirement Security 2011: A Roadmap for Policymakers,” provides evidence that the nation’s retirement infrastructure is declining and that the unpredictability of the stock market makes it difficult to save for life after work.
The study, released in March 2011, also indicated that many view retirement as only surviving, while others think politicians don’t understand their anxiety.
In detail, the study showed that:
• Eighty-four percent of people polled are concerned about their retirement security, a percentage that is on the rise.
• Americans have low retirement expectations: Only 11 percent expect retirement to include leisure, travel, dining out or indulging in hobbies. Most will try to pay down debt or simply survive in retirement, or may delay retirement altogether.
• Nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe the U.S. retirement system is in need of reform.
• About three in four believe the ups and downs of Wall Street make it impossible to accurately plan for retirement.
• A like percentage of people say the disappearance of pensions for many workers has eroded the “American Dream.”
The report indicates that the median U.S. household headed by a person aged 60-62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed to maintain its standard of living after its members stop working.
Retirement anxiety has many physical and emotional symptoms. You will feel a continual sense of dread as your final work day approaches. You will have trouble concentrating because your mind will keep focusing on worry about your future. You'll feel restless and jumpy, and you may focus on worst-case scenarios, like failing health, being unable to afford your bills or losing your spouse. Physically, you'll be keyed up. You might have tense muscles and an upset stomach. You may also experience headaches and tremors. You'll have insomnia and feel fatigued due to the lack of rest.
Anxiety is created because of the unknown. Your financial future is one of the biggest unknowns so it’s no wonder why we worry about retirement. For those, who are just approaching retiring age, the cure for retirement anxiety is simple: Start planning for the future. Many studies have suggested that any people just have no plans for retirement. Are you one of those people? It’s no wonder there is so much retirement anxiety out there. If you think about the word planning it simply means looking into the future to make your future as predictable as you possibly can. It’s all about figuring out where you stand, where you need to be and how to get there. Planning is the start of reducing retirement anxiety.
There is no universal definition of what retirement means. Retirement can be anything you want it to be. You simply need to figure out what you want it to be. Figuring out how much is enough should not be intimidating.
While you are already at retirement, you can successfully fight anxiety by finding meaningful things to do. Become a volunteer for a worthwhile cause, take a class or sign up for lessons to learn a new activity. An Allstate Study identified popular options like travel, gardening, fishing, home improvement and exercising. Get a part-time job if your anxiety is triggered by both boredom and financial worries. You can come up with ideas and plans in the year before you actually stop working. This will provide a useful channel for your anxiety.
Talk to your doctor about counseling or medication if self-help does not sufficiently relieve your anxious feelings, the Help Guide recommends. Talk therapy provides a safe outlet in which to vent your feelings and explore possible solutions. Medication relieves physical and emotional symptoms.
Sources and Additional Information: