Seeking retirement as a haven from the stress of life? Think again.
As retirement expert, author and speaker Robert Laura brings to light, the Holmes & Rahe Stress scale indicates that twenty of the top 43 stress-producing life events can happen in retirement. In fact, number ten is retirement.
Psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe conducted a survey and examined over five thousand medical records as to how stress related to various illnesses. You will notice quite a few, especially in the top 11, that may await you in the retirement years.
Holmes – Rahe Life Stress Scale
- Death of a spouse
- Separation from a mate
- Detention in jail or other institution
- Death of a close family member
- Major personal injury or illness
- Being Fired
- Reconciliation with a mate
- Major change in health or behavior of a family member
- Sexual Difficulties
- Gaining new family member (birth, adoption, older adult moving in, etc.)
- Major business readjustment
- Change in financial state
- Death of a close friend
- Changing to a new line of work
- Increase/decrease of arguments with a mate
- Taking on a mortgage or loan
- Major change in work responsibilities
- Child leaving home
- In-law troubles
- Outstanding personal achievement
- Mate beginning or ceasing work outside of the home
- Beginning or ending formal schooling
- Major change in living conditions (new home, remolding, decline of home or neighborhood)
- Revision of personal habits
- Troubles with the boss
- Major changes in working conditions or hours
- Changes in residence
- Changing to a new school
- Major change in types/amount of recreation
- Major change in church activity
- Major change in social activity
- Taking out a loan
- Major change in sleeping habits
- Major change in family get-togethers
- Major change in eating habits
- Major holidays
- Minor violations of the law
The American Institute of Stress offers an inventory sheet so you can do a self-assessment. Try doing it based on your life right now. Then take a moment and imagine your future. What types of stresses do you think are likely during your retirement years? Then apply to the Stress Assessment and discover what the level of stress and therefore the related consequences of that stress might be to your health and overall wellbeing and happiness.
What realizations do these insights hold for you and what can you do about it in your life plan?
Missing: Perhaps the biggest stress of all
What’s missing from this list is perhaps the most significant stress of all: Lack of purpose.
I have heard from virtually every retirement, success, and life coaching expert as well as retirees that a lack of purpose, significance, and accomplishment is leading many modern retirees to say they are failing at retirement. In other words, failing at life.
This lack of purpose and significance can lead to depression, anxiety, a sense of failure and therefore failing health and overall decline. Alcohol and drug abuse, depression, divorce or even suicide are on the increase among retirees.
This is not necessarily true for everyone. Many people thrive in traditional retirement.
With that said, these stress factors are realities that anyone approaching, considering or in retirement must be aware of.
Take them into account and envision what you want your life in this phase of life to be. Be very honest and realistic. Then consider, plan and develop a way forward so that you thrive and enjoy some of the best years of your life.
How about you? What are the stress factors you are concerned about or experiencing in regards to this time of life?