Retirement is supposed to be a reward for decades of hard work. But the final years leading to retirement can also be fraught with stress and anxiety. Not knowing what the future holds may leave you paralyzed with fear. Have I saved enough money? What will my health care look like? Will I be able to fill my days?
If you notice your pre-retirement anxiety rising, remember that you are not alone. U.S. Census data shows that there are 47.8 million Americans age 65 and older. As the number of retirees continues to grow, so do resources and support available to this age group.
Before pre-retirement stress gets the best of you, take these steps to ease your anxiety and embrace your golden years:
Anxiety can stem from fear of the unknown. One way to reduce pre-retirement anxiety is to educate yourself about retirement. Nervous about health care? Learn about Medicare and the enrollment process. Worried about your retirement finances? Assess your personal savings and map out a retirement budget. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be about taking the leap into retirement.
The idea of preparing for retirement can be overwhelming. Experts at anxiety.org recommend approaching retirement planning the same way you would tackle a project at work. Break big goals into smaller steps and focus on one task at a time. Set deadlines for yourself to keep the process moving.
You don’t have to plan for retirement alone. Financial planners and insurance agents specialize in retirement preparation and offer valuable information. A certified retirement coach can guide you through the mental, social, physical, and financial aspects of retirement. Ask recently retired friends and family for recommendations and advice.
Retirement often brings with it a loss of identity. To prevent that feeling, the American Psychological Association suggests that you focus on your identity outside of your job. Recognizing your role as a dad, or a grandmother, or a golfer, or a gardener to shift your perspective and provide a picture of your post-retirement identity.
You may find that you are ready to step back from a full-time career, but not quite ready to stop working altogether. A bridge job can alleviate anxiety and be a great transition between your career and retirement. It will expand your social network, provide income, and postpone your need to dip into savings. Capitalize on your career strengths and personal interests to find a bridge job that excites you.