ATTENTION: One Thing All Retirees Need

It’s well known that when we’re in the workforce, we need vacations. Vacations can lower your blood pressure, increase your creativity, recharge, and prevent burnout from the day-to-day responsibilities at work.

Yet America is the No-Vacation Nation…

Research found that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time in 2017, and 21% left more than five vacation days on the table. 

You might think that after you retire taking time off would no longer be important since retirement is like a permanent stay-at-home vacation.

No so.

Life gets in the way…

You may no longer have to get up to an alarm clock or deal with the stress of commuting to work. But you still have responsibilities, such as paying bills and maintaining your home.

Look at this way:

We’re living longer and retiring earlier and hope to have 25+ years of retirement. That’s about 9,000 days. Do you want to be doing the same thing on Day 2,632 that you did on Day 33?

Probably not.

Breaking Your Routine

It makes sense then, why you need an occasional break from your routine.

We fall into a rut, even when retired. Your day might go like this:

You get up the same time every morning, make coffee, read the newspaper, and check your email. Then you take the dog for walk, have lunch, and do household chores. Next thing it’s dinner time. A few hours watching TV and off to bed.

The following morning you do it all over again.

Sure, you might go to the gym or your volunteer job a few times a week. But it’s pretty much the same… day after day. 

Sitting on the beach while sipping one of those fancy drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of the glass can do wonders for gaining a refreshed perspective on life.

The same can be said for playing golf, fishing, or skiing in a country you’ve never visited. Your brain will get a dose of dopamine, the chemical associated with pleasure. In other words, you’ll feel good.

Meanwhile, you’ll have a freedom from obligations since you won’t be worrying about the weeds in the flower bed or the windows that need cleaning.

Also, boredom is one of the main reasons for the record-high divorce rate for the 50+ age group.

So spending time with your significant other while away from your routine can deepen the relationship and makes for lifelong memories.

There’s an even bigger reason to take a vacation from retirement…

Loneliness Is Deadly

When working, you likely had many social interactions, friends, and acquaintances. But now that you’re retired, those connections might be distant memories and you feel isolated.

According to the American Psychological Association, more than 42 million Americans say they’re lonely. And Census Bureau data indicate that that number will surge since more than a quarter of the population lives alone and nearly half of the population is unmarried.

Some health care professionals see this not only as a pending public health hazard, but an epidemic of increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Loneliness can even be more dangerous to your health than obesity.

Moreover, data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study was used to compare self-reported loneliness with the amount of amyloid, a protein that plays a key role in memory levels, in the brain.

The results as published in JAMA Psychiatry were that 32% of the participants who were identified as lonely tested positive for high amyloid levels — a warning sign for Alzheimer’s disease.

A few days without human contact aren’t going to throw your health into a tailspin. But weeks, months, and decades of loneliness can surely have a negative impact on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

On the other hand, a vacation gives you the opportunity to break the isolationism, interact with others, and restore a sense of identity.

From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary

The kind of vacation you take in retirement can vary widely.

For instance, you can visit grandchildren or friends across the country without spending a ton of money. Or travel to other cities or states to check out places to relocate.

If money isn’t a big concern, you can stay at a five-star wellness resort or take a cruise to just about anywhere.

Yet if you want something out of the ordinary, consider volunteer travel…

Volunteer travel opportunities generally run about the same price as a traditional vacation since the sponsoring organization requests a contribution to its cause. However, you go to places that tourists rarely see.

Habitat for Humanity is one of the organizations that sponsor such trips in the U.S. and abroad. Many are to poor, developing or third-world countries. So don’t expect the creature comforts you’re used to at home. There may be decaying infrastructure, such as washed out highways and questionable toilet facilities.

But you’ll make a difference in the local community and gain friends along the way.

You could also expand your mind by going on a learning expedition. One resource for these types of trips is Road Scholar, which has 1,000s adventures in the U.S. and in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe. 

A recent listing is to Mexico to witness the gray whale migration.

If you are more of the thrill-seeking type, why not learn a sport that you just never had time for? Sailing, snorkeling, skydiving may be on your bucket list. So if not now… when?

For example, CrewSeekers International posts available crewing positions from around the world. Many don’t require experience, only a good attitude and willingness to learn.

Want to take your skiing to the next level? Well, now you have the time…

Bumps for Boomers is a program meant to teach older folks how to handle moguls and powder. You’ve worked for decades and looked forward to a long and healthy retirement. But that doesn’t mean you’ve retired from living. Stretch your mind and imagination by breaking the routine.

Let retirement take a vacation… 

Strive to do different things, such as learning new languages and customs, tasting new foods, and meeting new and interesting people. Take a lot of pictures, share them with others, and cherish the memories.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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