Could retirement be making you ill?

Do you have a high-pressure job?  Could you be described as a workaholic?  Maybe with perfectionistic tendencies and a high need for achievement? 

Are you, generally, perfectly healthy during the working week but regularly experiencing headaches/migraines, fatigue, muscular pain, nausea and/or flu-like symptoms at weekends or holiday/vacation times?

If I've just described you, you may have 'leisure sickness' - first identified by Dutch psychologist, Ad Vingerhoets of Tillburg University in 2001.  And you're not alone - it seems that at least 3 per cent of the working population (particularly high-performing individuals), identify themselves as suffering from symptoms of illness at times when work-related pressure is off and they don't have much on their 'to-do' list.

As I understand it, the theory is that leisure sickness is caused by the fact that the immune system - the body's defence mechanism - works particularly efficiently when it's under stress and boosted by the production of adrenaline.  However, when that pressure is removed (as it is at weekends and during holidays/vacations), and adrenaline levels start to fall, the body becomes more susceptible to illness.

Another theory is that, at weekends and holidays, people who thrive in high-pressure situations may start to suffer from 'underload syndrome' - a term used to refer to any kind of ill health caused by lack of stimulation or challenge.  It's thought that, when stimulation and challenges are removed, the body stops producing vital hormones such as endorphins, which, in turn, results in a drop in metabolic rate, leading to low energy, a sluggish immune system  and a susceptibility to infection.

Before you retire, of course, the symptoms associated with leisure sickness only last for the weekend or, at most, for the length of your holiday/vacation.  But what if you regularly suffer from leisure sickness and you're approaching retirement?  If the causes of this condition are underload and the inability to successfully transition from the 'work' to the 'non-work' environment, does that mean that, unless you manage the situation carefully, there's a good chance that you could spend your whole retirement feeling ill?

As someone who has a special interest in helping people who are experiencing difficulty with retirement, I am currently researching the impact of 'leisure sickness' on a retiree's ability to make a successful transition into retirement.  If you are already retired and feel that your retirement is being adversely affected by leisure sickness or, if you feel that you suffer from leisure sickness, are approaching retirement and would like to explore this issue further, I'd love to hear from you.  Please contact me at with 'Leisure Sickness' in the title of your email.

It's surprising what you'll miss...

Car park space One of the newsletters that I'm always pleased to see turn up in my email inbox is that of Sandy Dempsey, who runs The Dreaming Cafe - tagline: 'Where self-discovery. self-expression and self-employment come together'.

One of Sandy's blog posts from the last week was entitled, 'I thought I had it all figured out', and in it she talks about all the things she didn't expect when she gave up her day job to become full-time self-employed.  It struck me that a few of the things that Sandy didn't expect can also take retirees by surprise, namely:

'That I would miss the challenge of the work I used to do.

That I’d find myself so tired and so exhausted in the beginning that some days I could hardly get out of bed.

The number of hours, days and months it would take to shake the toxicity of the work environment I had left behind or to let go of the attitudes and beliefs I had adopted over the years to protect myself.

That I would miss my ex coworkers.

That I would feel alone and isolated.

That I would suddenly have to face my own surprising health issues.'

What do you think?  Have you recently retired and found yourself bumping up against some unexpected emotions?  Do you know someone who retired and found themselves struggling to cope with no longer being in the workplace?  Let me know in the comments section below...

When disenchantment with retirement turns into depression

Barbara Sher If your disenchantment with retirement is starting to turn into depression, check out this fabulous blog post by the magnificent Barbara Sher about an email exchange that she'd had with someone suffering from depression.  It contains extremely good advice!

The 6 Stages of Retirement - Part 6

6 stages book coverStage 6 - and the final stage of the retirement process is the Routine phase. 

Routine comes when you’ve sorted out all your ‘issues’.  A new order of life has been established, retirement is starting to fit you like a glove and you're wondering how you ever found time to go to work.  However, even this stage is not without its potential pitfalls...

The potential pitfalls of the Routine Phase include:

  • Becoming set in your ways by having too rigid a routine

  • Leaving no time or scope for fun and spontaneity in your life

  • Keeping yourself so busy that you don't leave enough time to spend with the people who matter most to you 

  • Being too risk-averse, not being adventurous enough

  • Believing a little too much in the ‘forever young’, baby-boomer-generated aphorism that ’60 is the new 40’.  For example, although exercise is considered to be extremely beneficial (some would say crucial!) as we get older, our bodies aren't the same as they were when we were 20 and we need to learn how to exercise smarter.  In addition, although procedures such as cosmetic surgery and liposuction can make us look better (and younger) by removing the excess skin and subcutaneous fat from our bodies, the incidence of heart disease is just as high after these procedures because they can't remove the internal, artery-clogging fat that does the real damage, making these procedures no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

  • Not carrying out regular 'How's it going?' reviews (with your partner, if you have one) to make sure that you're still on track and that dissatisfaction or boredom haven't started to creep in

So that's it - my guide to the 6 stages of retirement.  My aim has been, not to spoil your fun as you anticipate your long-awaited freedom, but to alert you to the potential pitfalls in advance so that you can think about them and decide if they are likely to be a problem for you.  I hope the guide will prove useful to you in your own retirement and, if you find you need help negotiating through the various stages, please take a look at my website to discover how you can work with me.

The 6 Stages of Retirement - Part 5

6 stages book coverStage 5 of the retirement process is the Reorientation phase.
After the honeymoon and the subsequent letdown of the disenchantment stage, Reorientation is the process of adjustment and adaptation to the reality of retirement.  Otherwise known as ‘getting your act together’, it involves identifying and doing what you need to do to start to make retirement work for you

It might involve getting a part-time job to add structure and a sense of purpose to your days.  It might involve voluntary work that enables you to feel useful and valued again.  It might involve embarking on an exercise programme to lose those extra pounds and restore your flagging energy levels.  It might involve a heart-to-heart discussion with your partner to decide how you can start to enjoy your time together instead of getting under each others’ feet.  Only you can decide what's missing from your life and take the action needed to put it right.

The potential pitfalls of the Reorientation stage include:

  • Not getting absolutely clear about what you want your retirement to look and feel like

  • Not articulating what you want for yourself and your retirement in case it makes you seem selfish, frivolous or foolish

  • Not speaking up for yourself and being honest about your wants and needs with partners or family members and, thereby, allowing other people to decide, by default, how you will spend your time

  • Not sharing your vision of your ideal retirement with your partner and not truly listening to and trying to understand your partner when they share their own vision with you

  • Not making a genuine attempt to create a combined, mutual version of your ideal retirements that works for both you and your partner

  • Failing to properly identify the causes of your dissatisfaction and deal with them to the best of your ability.  (I realise that not everyone can completely eliminate all their causes of dissatisfaction but we can all take steps to make the situation better.)

  • Not experimenting with different ways of living/being/doing things/keeping life interesting

Tomorrow - the final stage of the retirement process, Routine.  Don't forget to come back!

RDP cover

Don't waste another day of your retirement!  If you're struggling with the Reorientation stage of retirement, my Retirement Detox Programme: 40 Days to get your retirement back on track ebook is available for immediate download here

The 6 Stages of Retirement - Part 4

6 stages book coverI've written a whole book - The Retirement Detox Program - about the retirement stage that I'm going to take a look at today, because I believe that how you manage this phase of your retirement is crucial to your retirement success. 

The Disenchantment stage is where letdown – a feeling of disappointment or uncertainty - can occur. You’ve done many of the fun things you wanted to do but now the honeymoon (and maybe the budget for the fun activities) is over, and it's time to face the reality of being retired. 

Maybe you’re starting to feel a bit bored or lonely.  Maybe those fun activities you always wanted to have time to do don’t feel so much fun when you have all the time in the world to do them and can do them every day.  Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds and you’re starting to feel sluggish or less like your old self.  Maybe you feel like your energy retired at the same time you did and you’re struggling to get going again.  Maybe you’ve achieved all the goals that you set for your retirement and you’re left feeling ‘What’s next?’.
The disenchantment phase can become a real problem for up to 20% of all retirees and can lead to depression if not managed correctly by identifying the causes of your dissatisfaction, dealing with them and then designing and implementing a satisfying and enjoyable retirement lifestyle for yourself.  

The potential pitfalls of the Disenchantment phase include:

  • Forgetting to replace the retirement goals/'bucket-list' items that you have already achieved with new ones, so that you always have something inspirational to strive for 

  • Not finding ways to replace the benefits that you obtained from your work, which include: financial stability, time management, a sense of being useful, status and socialization and companionship.

  • Allowing yourself to become bogged-down in everyday, mundane activities that leave precious little time for the things you really love and want to do

  • Becoming derailed by something that completely blows your retirement plans out of the water - such as a recession, a divorce or health problems, and not taking the necessary action to get yourself back on course

  • Becoming aware that you and your partner are 'getting under each other's feet' and that your relationship has deteriorated since you retired, but not doing anything to resolve the situation to your mutual satisfaction

  • Discovering that your expectations for your retirement and those of your partner don't match up and not taking action to try to blend the two together in a mutually agreeable and satisfying way

  • Letting the extra pounds pile on until weight management becomes a real problem for you

  • Allowing the disenchantment phase to go on too long before taking action to turn things around

  • Not recognizing when disenchantment has turned into depression and not seeking medical help to get yourself back on track

Tomorrow - Reorientation.  Don't forget to call back!

RDP cover

Don't waste another day of your retirement!  If you're struggling with the Disenchantment stage of retirement, my Retirement Detox Programme: 40 Days to get your retirement back on track ebook is available for immediate download here

The 6 stages of retirement

RDPcoursenowavailable 'It's just a stage you're going through...' - how many times have well-meaning friends and family members said that to you over the course of your lifetime? And, as far as retirement is concerned, 'disillusionment and disenchantment' is just one of the stages that most retirees go through. (Check out Mark Cussen's ' 6 stages of retirement' to find out which stage you've reached in the retirement process.)

Of course, problems can occur when you spend too long in the 'disenchantment' stage and feelings of disenchantment start to turn into boredom and dissatisfaction with your life, which can, in turn, lead to full-blown anxiety and depression.

If you feel that you may be suffering from depression, I would urge you to contact your Doctor immediately and get the help you need.  However, if you feel that it's time to give yourself a bit of a shake-up in the 'retirement lifestyle' department, here are some of the ways that I can help:

Sign up for the Retirement Detox blog updates - head over to the Retirement Detox blog and put your details into the sign-up box on the right to make sure you never miss out on any of our hints, tips, articles and resources.

Buy the Retirement Detox Program eBook - scroll up until you reach the Retirement Detox Program button on the left.  Click on the button and you'll be taken to a page where you can buy the book, safely and securely, using Paypal.  Once your payment has been processed, you will be given the information you need to immediately download your copy of the book.

Come to one of our Retirement Detox Courses - held every month in central Manchester, UK.  Click here for details.

Book a Retirement Detox Coaching Session.  Click here for details.

It's never too late to rescue your retirement from the doldrums and turn it into the retirement you deserve!

Do you need a retirement makeover?

3decover2edited Are you struggling with retirement?  It's not uncommon.  Once the 'honeymoon' period is over and reality starts to set in, up to 1 in 5 people can feel that their life is in the doldrums, they're not getting the retirement they deserve and that, if this is all they have to look forward to, they wish they'd never retired in the first place! 

If all this sounds horribly familiar to you, don't panic... Use these 10 thought-provoking questions to help give yourself a Retirement Detox:   

1. What do you want more of in your life? (What makes you happy?)

2. What do you want less of? (What bugs you, makes you unhappy or even downright miserable?)

3. What would your ideal retirement look like and how close to that ideal retirement could you get?

4. If this was your last day on earth, how would you spend your time?  What implications does this hold for the way that you spend your time on a daily basis (and who you spend it with)?

5. Which activities do you do that bring you meaning and fulfillment?

6. Which activities do you do that just fill your time without adding anything of value to your life?

7. What do you do that adds structure and a sense of purpose to your days?

8. How do you continue to obtain a sense of achievement and a 'job well done' now that you are retired?

9. Could you come up with a 'bucket list' - a list of 100 things that you still want to be, do and have before you 'kick the bucket'?

10. What single, daily action could you take to ensure that you achieve all the items on your bucket list?  For example, you could make an agreement with yourself that you won't watch TV until after 9pm and spend the time between dinner and 9pm working on your list.  Or you could commit to exercising for an hour a day to maximize your chances of being around long enough to achieve all the items on your list.

These are just ten of the hundreds of thought-provoking questions I ask in my eBook, The Retirement Detox Programme: 40 days to get your retirement back on track.  The eBook is available for just £10 (approximately $20) from my website by clicking the above link.

This is a brilliantly inspiring book that will pep you up and lead you to find the confident, balanced, ordered, joyous and peaceful life that you’ve always wanted.  Margaret Sheridan-Wallis

'I am blown away by this amazing Ebook, so much value for just £10!' Dr Alison Grimston, GP, UK

101 painless ways to detoxify your mind, body and home

If you're looking for ways to feel good this summer, have a look at '101 Painless Ways to Detoxify Your Mind, Body, and Home' by Laura Milligan.  (It'll take you all summer to check out all the useful resource links that the article contains.)