Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of evolving and growing. Maintaining wellness in your life is very important to ensure quality of life, especially in retirement. Everything you do and every emotion you feel relates to your well-being and your well-being affects your actions and emotions. Optimal wellness calms stress reduces the risk of illness and ensures positive interactions. Wellness is more than physical well-being; it is also emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual well-being. Each dimension of well-being is vital to helping you achieve optimum health.
Physical well-being is probably your number-one goal. You are correct if it takes the number-one position on your list as it is critical for overall well-being and is the most visible of the well-being.
You know the old saying, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” This is all the more reason to maintain your body and see your health-care provider when necessary. Achieving physical well-being is more than an annual physical; it requires you to do your part. Remember, prevention is key to a healthy retirement. Embrace preventive health care and include things like mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies, and flu shots in your life.
Dedicate a time every day for physical activity including flexibility practice and endurance. Physical activity can be a mix of leisurely exercise (hiking, biking, walking) and structured exercise (strength training, running, sports).
My father has a very established and well-balanced way of maintaining his physical well-being. Four to five days a week, he rides his bike four miles then hikes five miles and rides his bike four miles home. He does this fairly early each day and is usually home by noon.
When he leaves to go hiking, my mom leaves to go walking at the mall before it opens. Not only is each person taking part in some physical exercise, but these activities also allow them a healthy amount of time apart from each other daily while helping both of them maintain good physical health. When they return from their exercises, they eat lunch together, which is their largest meal of the day.
Research continually shows that eating your largest meal for lunch instead of dinner is far healthier for your body. The earlier time in the day allows your body more time to digest your meal and burn the calories before bedtime. Most everyone tends to eat their big meal as evening dinner because of the time constraints of an eight-hour workday. Originally, this habit came about during the Industrial Revolution. Before the Industrial Revolution most people ate lunch as their big meal. Generally speaking, obesity was less of a problem then than it is today. In retirement, you no longer have to live by the big-meal-at-dinner rule.
Practice good nutrition and diet on a daily basis that includes nutrient intake (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals), fluid intake (water), and foods that promote healthy digestion (fiber-rich foods). Don’t restrict any nutrients without a health-care professional’s recommendation.
Enjoy in Moderation
Reduce your consumption of alcohol, especially if it appears to alter your mood or bodily processes. Many fad diets exist that come and go. Most of these diets involve eliminating certain things from your menu. Realistically, moderation in all things is good, and if you don’t practice this now, it is a good time to begin.
If you like to have a chocolate chip cookie occasionally for dessert, have one—just don’t have a dozen cookies. You can find research that shows how red meat can be bad for your digestion; however, you can also find studies that report red meat in proper proportions is good for you. Again, it’s a pretty good rule to live a life of moderation.
Pay Attention to Medical Needs
Address minor medical ailments or injuries and seek emergency care when needed.
Get that R&R
Get plenty for relaxation and high-quality sleep. National Sleep Foundation in an article titled How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? recommends that sleep last from seven to nine hours per night for adults age 65 and older. Consistent sleep that is much shorter or longer than this duration or is low quality may need to be addressed by a health professional.
Not getting enough sleep can have a much greater negative impact on your life than simply causing you to be tired throughout the day. According to a report published on WebMD, Ten Things to Hate About Sleep Loss, lack of sleep can cause auto accidents; lack of sex drive; and serious health problems such as heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or diabetes. Lack of sleep can also cause depression, cause aging of your skin, and make you forgetful. The good news is that in retirement, you are in charge of your own schedule, and you can now make getting enough sleep a priority.
We’ve covered how staying strong physically can affect your retirement. Next, we’ll take a look at how mental well-being is also a significant factor in enjoying your golden years.
Please speak to your doctor for medical advice.
This excerpt is from Ryan S. Kidd’s book The Art of Retiring Whole. Ryan is a Senior Partner with Validus Financial Associates and specializes in the financial aspects of retirement. Additionally Ryan has a master’s degree in counseling that helps him better understand the non-financial issues that retirees face.