How to Deal With Retirement Anxiety

anxious senior man sitting behind a desk and contemplating

Does the thought of retirement bring up feelings of anxiety?


It doesn’t matter if you’re getting ready for retirement or if you’re already retired.


Retirement anxiety is a real thing that many people experience.


The reality is that no matter how much you’ve been anticipating it, retiring from your job is a major life event that comes with its own set of both challenges and benefits.


On the one hand, you finally have the chance to pursue your dreams and do all the things you never had time for before. 


On the other hand, you may find yourself feeling disconnected and purposeless without a job to structure your days.


The latter makes retirement anxiety a real thing. And while society helps us financially prepare for retirement, it’s also a disservice because neglecting the other (more important) aspects of life in the 5 Rings of Retirement, too often makes retirement anxiety unavoidable.


5 rings of retirement finances


The good news is it can be managed and minimized with a few key steps — and we’re here to help.


In this article, we’ll go over the main symptoms and solutions to help you overcome retirement anxiety.


Retirement Anxiety Symptoms

Retirement anxiety is a very real phenomenon, and it can manifest in a variety of ways.


For some people, it may manifest as general anxiety or worry about the future. Often, this worry is centered around:


  • Finances — even if you’ve been trained to financially prepare for retirement, wondering whether your money will last in retirement and if you will have enough to cover your costs gives even people with healthy nesteggs anxiety and fears about spending money
  • Health — concerns about your health declining as you age and whether or not you will be able to stay active
  • Loneliness — the worry that retirement will be isolating without work connecting you to people, social interaction, and a busy interactive schedule
  • Boredom — the feeling that retirement may be uneventful or that you won’t have enough to keep you occupied and stimulated, let alone, excited
  • Lack of purpose — experiencing a loss of usefulness, relevance, significance, or self-confidence, feeling  like your retirement years will be without purpose or meaning


retirement anxiety and worries are usually centered around health, lack of purpose, loneliness, boredom and finances


Other retirement anxiety symptoms can be more physical, such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. 


Maybe even changes in sleep patterns or appetite, as well as difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus. It can also lead to feelings of increased irritability, frustration, and even depression.


If you’re experiencing any of these retirement anxiety symptoms, don’t despair. Read on for our seven tips on how to overcome retirement anxiety.


How to Overcome Retirement Anxiety

#1 Pinpoint Your Why

It’s normal to feel a little anxious about retirement. After all, it’s a big life change. But if your retirement anxiety is starting to take over daily life, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s causing it.


Go over the five main worries listed above and try to pinpoint which ones resonate with you the most. Dig deep because the pain point can be beneath the bigger category. 


For instance, research suggests that it could even be the fear of dying — those who perceive retirement as an “end” are both more anxious and depressed at the mere thought of it. 


Once you know what’s causing your retirement anxiety, you can start to find more direct ways to address it. There are plenty of resources on our page to help you make a successful transition into retirement. 


And one of the top reasons we see as being the culprit for retirement anxiety, is not having a purpose. (So much so that we’ve created the Post-Career Purpose Finder and a Retirement Purpose Quiz, in case you want direct help with this.)


The gist of it is this: 


If you do the inner work to connect with your passions and purpose in retirement (note that your new identity is supposed to evolve from your career identity, and that takes a bit of introspection work), then you will reveal something profound that both excites you and uproots your anxiety.


Once you find that clarity, with some dedicated planning, you can overcome your retirement anxiety and enjoy this next important phase of your life. Which brings us to tip #2…


#2 Plan Ahead for Non-Financial Areas

The key to a successful retirement is to take the time to plan for it, both financially and emotionally. 


According to a pre-retirement planning study, the more you plan your finances, health, and psychological well-being, the more retirement confidence you’ll have. However, if you dwell too much on your social activities, you increase negative emotions about retirement.


the more you plan your finances, health and mental well-being, the more retirement confidence you'll have


So take some time to sit down and figure out what your ideal retirement looks like for you. Ask yourself:


  • What kind of lifestyle do you want to maintain? 
  • How will you cover your expenses? 
  • What are your health concerns? 
  • + these 7 key retirement questions


Answering these questions can help put your mind at ease and give you a better sense of what you can and cannot control over your retirement. This distinction is a gamechanger when it comes to knowing exactly where to focus your energy (aka not wasting your energy on things you can’t control). 


While it’s important to plan for your financial future, it’s also crucial to consider your emotional well-being. Which has so many other facets to it. 


For many people, without the structure of a 9-to-5 job, retirement can feel like a never-ending vacation or like Groundhog Day. To avoid this redundancy, it’s important to dig into non-financial retirement planning. And our Retirement Checklist is a handy way to start.


Our number one recommendation: find activities that give your day purpose and meaning. Whether it’s volunteering, taking up a new hobby, or spending time with loved ones, retirement is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery — so plan for the non-financial categories, too.


#3 Change Your Perception From Society’s Perception

If you’re having a tough time shaking retirement anxiety, it might be helpful to change your perception of retirement.


Research has shown time and again that negative perceptions of aging significantly impact your mental health and lead to retirement depression and anxiety. So if you’re finding retirement daunting, try to reframe it.


For instance, instead of viewing retirement as the end of something, try to see it as the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Because that’s truly what it is. This shift in thinking can help you reframe retirement anxiety as excitement for all the possibilities that lie ahead.


We get it — much easier said than done. But there are specific tools to help you do this (take any of these helpful products, for example). 


In a nutshell: By changing your perspective on retirement, you can open yourself up to amazing possibilities and experiences. This journey can take you to new places, both physically and emotionally.


It’s a time to explore new hobbies, travel to new places, and try new things. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. And it’s a time to focus on your health and well-being. 


In other words, traditional ways of looking at retirement cuts you off from possibilities retirement is what you make of it. 


So if you’re feeling anxious about retirement, take a deep breath and remember that it’s just the beginning of a new chapter in your life and that it’s worth taking it as an opportunity to explore all that life has to offer.


#4 Redefine Yourself

If you’re like most people, for years, you’ve defined yourself by your job role. And, for some, retirement means giving up that sense of purpose and identity. Which is so hard to let go of because it’s been a central part of your life for so long.


Yet, redefining and reinventing yourself is a necessary transition to make. Otherwise, if you hang on to your old identity for too long, it just prolongs your anxiety until you near a potentially more stressful identity crisis.


Studies show that holding on to pre-retirement roles can lead to inertia and prolonged periods of transition until an identity crisis forces you to explore your options and find new roles for yourself.


a study on the resolution of role identity processes in retirement transition have shown there are four possible paths based on whether the strength of a retiree's work role identity and non-work role identities
According to the study, there are several possible identity paths in transitioning to retirement.


Consider the study’s four retirement identity paths in retirement to help wrap your head around them:


  • Path 1 — continuing non-work role identities and adapting your work role identity
  • Path 2 — persisting (by choice) and either:
    • adapting new non-work role identities 
    • experiencing a crisis and then adapting new identities
    • continuing to persist in your work role identity (which is unlikely to resolve your identity struggles)
  • Path 3 — continuing already established non-work role identities
  • Path 4 — persisting (by necessity) and going through similar processes as in path #2


Either way you go about it, retirement is a chance to redefine yourself and your life goals. Just because you’re no longer working doesn’t mean you can’t still find ways to be productive, contribute, and enjoy your golden years. 


Do things that make the authentic you happy and fulfilled, without worrying about what others might think. Retirement is your opportunity to create a life that is truly your own. Redefining and connecting with yourself is likely the best way to achieve the ideal retirement life you want.


#5 Set New Goals That Align With Your Purpose

It’s never too late to set new goals and start working towards them. In fact, the role that goal setting plays in adjusting to retirement can’t be overstated. It gives you something to look forward to and gives you a sense of purpose.


So, what kind of goals should you set? That’s entirely up to you but, it’s important to choose goals that are realistic, achievable, and most importantly, increasing your sense of purpose.


When you help others, contribute your skillset, and share your unique gifts with the world, you enhance your sense of purpose. Goals are what will turn your purpose into a reality.


Want a reliable step-by-step process for achieving goals that are based on your retirement purpose? This Post-Career Purpose Jumpstart will do the trick. 


Purpose Jumpstart aside, as you continue your lifelong journey of self-discovery, challenge yourself to create goals that feature these new and exciting findings. Dig into your new passions and purpose and build a set of goals around them. 

#6 Add Structure & Establish a Routine

After years of working, you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time and no clear structure to your day. It can be easy to let retirement become an endless string of lazy days with no purpose or direction.


Which is why establishing a retirement routine with structure is essential. This doesn’t mean that you need to fill every minute with activity. Instead, focus on scheduling regular times for a range of essential things like meals, exercise, and socializing.


why you need a retirement routine: for more meaning and purpose, for better sleep quality, for improved mental health and less stress, and more self-discipline


This can look like setting regular appointment times for self-care, scheduling weekly check-ins with friends or family, or taking up a new hobby that you can commit to on a regular basis. 


Of course, we’d be remiss not to drop in our broken record announcement: 


Schedule into your daily routine time for your purpose-driven activities and goals. 


By adding some predictability and routine to your days, you’ll not only feel more grounded and secure in retirement, but you’ll also set yourself up for having it all. As in, your responsibilities, contributions, work, play, social time, me time, freedom, spontaneity, peace, and leisure…   


It sounds counterintuitive, but the right structure will give you more freedom. 


And having a set routine built around your purpose will give you a sense of accomplishment and life satisfaction, and prevent retirement from becoming stagnant. 


#7 Connect With Others

Find a confidante, whether it’s your spouse, partner, sibling, life coach or friend. Talk openly about your fears and concerns related to retirement. This will help you gain perspective and develop a plan to address your retirement anxieties.


Research shows that merely sharing your emotions and worries with someone you trust can be beneficial in reducing stress, strengthening your immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.


Not to mention, there are countless benefits of staying socially connected, especially for older adults. 


Ultimately, by sharing your retirement worries with someone else, you can start to take control of your anxiety, reduce loneliness, and develop a more positive outlook on retirement.


Transition Into Retirement With Confidence

A lot of people approach retirement with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. 


After years of working hard, you finally have the opportunity to relax and enjoy your retirement years.


Yet retirement is also a time of great uncertainty. Especially if you haven’t planned all 5 Rings of Retirement and you’re not exactly sure what you want to do with your time. 


To overcome retirement anxiety:


  • #1 Pinpoint Your Why — try to identify the root cause of your retirement anxiety
  • #2 Plan Ahead — get organized and develop a retirement plan (beyond finances)
  • #3 Change Your Perception — focus on the positive aspects of retirement
  • #4 Redefine Yourself — retirement is a chance to reinvent yourself and pursue  new passions
  • #5 Set New Goals — retirement is an opportunity to set and achieve new goals
  • #6 Add Structure & Establish a Routine — living without any structure can be anxiety-inducing, so try to establish a daily routine
  • #7 Connect With Others — reach out to your support system and consider working with a professional


And know this: 


If you’re feeling anxious about retirement, we’re here to help you ease into this next phase of life with confidence, ease, and, more importantly — purpose and passion. 


Just schedule a Free Breakthrough Session with a trusted member of our team — we do this every day so we’re prepped to help you uncover what’s holding you back from the retirement you want, plus identify the next steps to take to live your most purposeful retirement life.


Don’t let anxiety keep you from enjoying this next phase of life — take a leap of faith and reach out today to get started. You have only possibilities to gain.

What's Your Retirement Purpose?

These 10 questions can make all the difference
portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.

Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.