No worries

Envisioning a stress-free retirement? How to make it happen 

By Leslie T. Snadowsky

Retiring from the workforce is one of the most stressful things you can do. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the psychiatric benchmark for tracking life events and the stress they cause, retirement ranks right behind the death of a spouse, divorce, personal injury or illness and being fired.

So how can you de-stress during what’s supposed to be the best time in your life?

Julie Martin, a local Hilton Head Island certified professional retirement coach, takes a visionary approach with her new business, Retire Ready Hilton Head. Every day in the U.S., 10,000 people come into retirement age, Martin said, and four to five thousand of them will fail at retirement. “There is a dark side to retirement,” she said. “People turn to depression and suicide because most people don’t retire well. My focus is to help people see retirement for what it truly is by taking them through a proven process to follow when planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement. I focus on the mental, social, physical and emotional.”

No pressure

Before she retired from the corporate world, Martin clocked in more than 32 years at AT&T, Microsoft and Marriott Vacations Worldwide in sales and marketing, human resources with an emphasis on management and leadership development, career development, succession planning and coaching.

Martin’s training to become a retirement coach examined both the art and science of making a successful transition from work life to home life.

“Retirement coaching is my passion,” she said. “Forty-six percent of retirees struggle to find their new purpose when they retire, and it can take up to two years to settle into retirement. 

“As a retirement coach, I do not offer financial advice,” Martin said. “I leave that to the financial professionals. I help people replace their work identity, allocate their time and resources and focus on being mentally and physically active. It’s a little easier to stay relevant and connected on Hilton Head because there are so many outlets, such as nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities.”

Get curious

Martin finds new retirees say they want to play more golf or Mahjong and spend more time with friends, but after that, they’re stumped and stressed. She advises people not to concentrate on a bucket list or a honey-do list but on a de-stressing curious list.

“Ask yourself how you wish to spend time and energy exploring something that you never thought about doing before,” Martin said. “Some people say they want to sing in a choir or learn how to paddle board, throw clay on a potter’s wheel, work on a farm, understand the science of cooking or learn flower arranging.”

Martin also implements a “no regrets retirement plan” that walks clients through what a perfect day in retirement looks like. At first Martin said retirees run out of ideas on how to fill their days and think they’ll get bored. Martin said that’s when her tools and resources kick in and culminate in clients completing a written retirement wellness plan.

“You’re not going to have that alarm clock go off at 6 a.m., and you’re not going to have to be at work at eight or nine o’clock to start your day. So how are you going to replace your time? I help clients develop a consistent approach, focusing on meaningful activities.”

Repurposing permanent time off

The Mayo Clinic finds the best ways to de-stress are to get active, eat a healthy diet, avoid unhealthy habits, meditate, laugh more, connect with others, assert yourself, try yoga, get enough sleep, keep a journal, get musical, be creative and seek counseling.

“I wouldn’t take one thing off that list,” Martin said. “But in addition to my curious list, I work with clients on their friends list. That’s what staying connected means because your friends from work won’t necessarily continue to be your friends or become your lifelong friends. Clients identify who they want to start connecting or reconnecting with. It could be childhood friends, and this is usually a de-stressor. I would say to visionaries who are entering into retirement to de-stress by planning ahead on the non-financial aspects of your retirement, and think about how you want to replace your work identity, how you want to allocate your time and your resources and how to focus on the mental, social, physical and the emotional aspects of life after work.” 

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