Coronavirus • April 8th, 2020

How to be happy in retirement even while social distancing

Gail Kellner

You’ve looked forward to retirement for years. Perhaps you looked forward to traveling to exotic locales, or cruises to far-flung islands. You thought you’d have free time to spend with your grandchildren, introducing them to the same attractions you loved as a child. You’d try new dishes by checking out hip new restaurants.

Now, though, Covid-19 has swept through the world. Social distancing is the new norm, just when you were hoping to spend more time traveling, not less. Restaurants are closed, sporting events and concerts have stopped and even making unnecessary trips to the grocery store is frowned upon. Furthermore, daily updates on the coronavirus are all over the endless news cycle, leading to concerns about your health and the health of your loved ones. It’s enough to stress anyone out.

It’s still possible to be happy, even in these stressful times. It just takes a little bit of creativity and effort.

Follow guidelines regarding social distancing

First of all, it’s important to practice social distancing. The CDC says that older people and those with chronic health conditions are most susceptible to the virus. The World Health Organization offers guidelines:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from everyone
  • Limit touching
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene (cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze)
  • Keep up-to-date on Covid-19
  • Cancel non-essential appointments
  • Stock thirty days worth of groceries

It’s important that everyone respect these guidelines and stay home. That way, we can flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the virus. Seniors and those with underlying health issues are the most vulnerable. Save money, and save lives by staying home.

Stay connected while staying home

Anyone who Googles “how to stay happy” will inevitably find advice on staying connected. But how do you stay connected while staying at home?

The good news is, everyone is practicing social distancing, which means many people are looking to connect remotely. There are many ways you can stay connected online and most of them are free.

Skype: You can use Skype for video calls with children, grandchildren, or friends. You can chat with multiple people at the same time. And it’s free.

Zoom: Zoom started off as a business tool, but a lot of schools are using it for online classes now. It works much the same way Skype does--it’s like video calling someone. It’s free for two people for up to 24 hours, or up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes. A lot of businesses are also using Zoom for virtual events, like book launches and webinars, that you can attend virtually.

Amazon Alexa: Did you know that you can make calls using your Amazon Alexa? As long as both you and the other person has an Alexa device, you can make a voice call to them at any time, and talking to them is just as easy as talking to your Alexa device.

Netflix Party: This is a Google Chrome extension that lets you watch the same movie with someone else in a different location at the same time. On the right-hand side of the screen is a place for comments, so you can interact with everyone watching while staying in sync.

There are popular social media apps, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that you can use to stay connected as well. Check in with your children, grandchildren, friends, and coworkers to see what they use and sign up for accounts on those apps.

Set Goals

Everyone is struggling with social distancing right now; everyone is trying to keep busy while staying at home.

Think of something you’d like to accomplish that you can work on from home.

Take a class: Did you know you can take a cooking class with Gordon Ramsey, learn storytelling with Neil Gamain, or learn the basics of poker, all online? These classes are offered through MasterClass, and there’s a lot of fun and unique classes to choose from. You can learn at your own pace through workbooks and assignments. Local businesses near you may also be offering online classes. For example, New York’s own Brooklyn Brainery is offering online Zoom classes for low, one-time costs.

Learn a new skill: There are lots of low-cost activities you can try! You can:

  • Practice yoga
  • Learn to draw or paint
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Write a novel (a chapter at a time)

Goal setting can start by brainstorming. Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish. Take about ten minutes and write down everything you can think of. Don’t worry if it’s practical during brainstorming.

After you’ve made your list, you can look at it with a more critical eye. Some won’t be possible because of the coronavirus, so set those aside. You can do those later. Choose one or two goals you can work on. Maybe you want to create the perfect gourmet meal, or finally learn to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar. Choose a specific goal, so that you’ll know when you accomplish it.

Like all goal setting, write down what you want to achieve, and write down all the steps that will get you there. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things.

Get outside

According to the World Happiness Report, Finland is the world’s happiest country. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is that Finns make it a point to go outside, even in cold weather. People who spend time outdoors have less risk of high blood pressure, depression, type 2 diabetes and have lower stress levels.

While you’ll want to social distance while you’re outside, it’s crucial to make sure you’re moving your body, staying fit, and seeing the sun every day.

Bottom Line

These are stressful, unprecedented times. The good news is that we’re all in this together. Now is the time to stay home and work on some new skills and add some new technology to your life. It's also a great time to discuss your retirement plan with a financial advisor at Retirable.

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Author

Gail Kellner

Gail Kellner lives with her husband, two sons, and various fur-children. She writes about personal finance and insurance mostly, with a little bit of parenting thrown in. She also writes YA Fantasy fiction in her spare time, and her first YA novel will be published later this year.