It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, and you’re baking chocolate chip cookies. You touch the ingredients, see them rising in the oven, hear the buzz of the kitchen timer, smell the buttery brown sugar, and finally taste the fruits of your labor.
Your five senses (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch) help you navigate (and enjoy) the world around you. As you age, some of these senses may change, and taking care of them can help you live a more intentional life.
Throughout the last few years, the importance of health has come to the forefront. It’s critical to make choices to protect you, your family, and your health. A marathon runner can’t just get up and run 26.2 miles. There’s months of training, healthy eating, restful sleep, and intentional choices behind a successful marathon.
The same goes for your retirement! You can’t live your ideal retirement life without being healthy enough to enjoy it.
One of the best ways to make your ideal retirement a reality is by prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, and this looks different for everyone. Generally, we know a few things about what a healthy lifestyle typically entails:
- Physical exercise
- Having a consistent sleeping schedule
- Eating a healthy diet
- Practicing time management
- Practicing positivity
All of these things play into having a healthy, enjoyable retirement. To start making your action plan for a healthy retirement, we encourage using the “Retirement Well-Being” exercise.
This inventory walks you through what you are already doing to live healthily or what you’d like to start doing in retirement. This tool emphasizes the importance of knowing that the fundamental foundation for your wealth is your complete and total health.
The Tenets Of Living A Healthy, Balanced Life
The American Heart Association states that having regular physical activity, appropriate body weight, a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and drinking in moderation can help you live longer. Those who adopt all five things at age 50 had an average life expectancy of 12-14 (men, women) years longer than those who didn’t.
Just like with finance, living healthy is all about balance. You don’t have to get to retirement and cut out all sugar, but you also don’t have to have a bowl of mint chip ice cream every night (though that does sound rather sweet). Likewise, you don’t have to run a marathon, but maybe a 5k is more your style!
When you prioritize a healthy life, you set yourself up to enjoy more of your retirement. Who doesn’t want that? You’ve worked hard throughout your life, and now that you’ve retired, you want to be as present and healthy as possible to make the most of your time.
This leads us to the first section of our exercise. Start by identifying health-related habits you plan to continue during retirement. For example, you might already be:
- Taking your dog for a nightly walk
- Cooking most of your meals at home
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule/routine
Once you have those down, switch gears to health-related habits you plan to start doing in retirement. For example, you may want to:
- Spend two days a week at the local gym swimming laps in the pool
- Try eating vegetarian once a week
- Take an additional vitamin to boost your iron levels
Now, choose three of those things to hone in on. When setting goals for yourself, it’s important to make them SMART (no pun intended). By this, we mean:
By setting SMART goals, you aim for a specific target. This gives you a much better chance of achieving your goal due to the direction, motivation, and clear focus the acronym encourages.
Specific goals have a significantly greater chance of being accomplished; If you don’t have criteria to measure your plan, you won’t be able to track your progress.
Your goal must be achievable. It’s difficult to set these goals because you have to strike a balance between goals that are “easy” layups and goals that challenge you to grow. Stretch yourself a little bit, so you still feel challenged, but not so much that it’s unreasonable and you’ll never actually get it done.
If you believe that you can achieve the goal given your resources and time, that makes it realistic (sometimes this part is the most difficult for me to do).
Lastly, your goal has to have a start and finish date. There won’t be a sense of urgency or motivation to achieve the goal if there’s no time constraint.
Healthy Opportunities Based On Your Five Senses
A healthy lifestyle can come down to nurturing your five senses. For example,
- Touch – Learn a new hands-on hobby like woodworking or painting.
- Sight – Visit a museum to see your favorite piece of art in person.
- Hearing – Attend a concert of your favorite musician.
- Smell – Spend time outside smelling the beautiful flowers in your garden.
- Taste – Try sushi or something else you’ve never had before.
What does nurturing your five senses look like to you? Take some time to identify health-related opportunities you plan to take advantage of during retirement. Consider your goals and values and select ideas with intention. Choose things that you want to do and fill your cup.
Monitor Health Concerns
You’ll likely encounter different health hurdles as you age—a bad back, high blood pressure, etc. If you haven’t already, look into your family’s medical history or conditions that they may have passed through genes. It’s essential to identify these things to stay on top of them! By doing this, identify any health-related concerns you will need to combat with healthy habits.
How can you be sure you’re taking care of yourself? By doing all of the things, we’ve discussed previously!
- Getting physical exercise
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight (which is easy as—apple—pie)!
- Taking your medication (if necessary)
- Seeing a health care specialist regularly and when needed.
As we mentioned previously, you have earned your right to a healthy, enjoyable retirement. Follow the goals and steps you’ve outlined in the exercise to help you get there.
Health and Identity Go Hand In Hand
Don’t think we forgot about the importance of being mentally healthy! Your health impacts how you feel daily, which can directly connect to your well-being and identity.
The WebMD states that being in a good mental state can keep you healthy and prevent severe health conditions. Specifically, a study found that positive mental well-being can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
By being aware of your mental health, getting good sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, getting exercise, and eating a proper diet, you can take care of both your physical and mental health.
How will you make your health a priority moving into retirement? What roadblocks stand in your way? Are you left with more questions? Let’s make a plan together.