Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Stresses of Being Retired

I haven't written about retirement for awhile, but since it is a state I am constantly in, it can't help but raise its little head from time to time on this blog.  So here it is again.

It's been almost three years now since I shut my office door for the last time, and I've been feeling a bit down, a bit at loose ends lately, a bit stressed, so I thought I would go back and take a look at some of the blog posts I wrote earlier in my retirement.

I had written about the things I was worried about when I retired: 

"Retirement: Do Dogs Ever Retire?" (this one is DEEP).

and "Retirement: Is the Honeymoon Over?"  This last one was written only a couple of months after I retired!  Read it and you will see why I used an exclamation point here!  And then again. 

But then six months after I retired, things were looking up when I wrote "My Retirement Journey - Six Months Later." 

That one ended with

"This IS my life now." 
And like starting one's own business, it is up to me for good or ill to make it successful.   
So now I have that list of things I want to pursue that I can add to my days at any time. 
Six months from now my routine might look very different.  My purpose changed.
But, you know what?  If it doesn't, I am not going to stress about it.  I am enjoying this time with myself."

Ah, the innocence of the newly retired.

Because three years in, I AM stressing about it.
When those who are not yet retired think of retirement, they are probably mostly thinking about whether or not they can afford it.  And they might think about what they will do when they have "all of the time in the world."  What they probably don't think about is STRESS.

Yes, that's right, S-T-R-E-S-S.

I have discovered that it is stressful to "have all of the time in the world."

I tell Hubby from time to time that "it's my day off" and he laughs saying "Every day is a day off for you (Hubby has not yet made the leap)."  But what he doesn't realize is that I see "Retirement" as my new job and I want to succeed at it. It takes work to retire successfully.  And as with all jobs, it has its stresses, and I need one day a week when I don't have to feel I need to have plans.

There is not much understanding out there in the world about retired people who are often perceived as being on a constant vacation.  I think we are also unfairly perceived as people who have bowed out of the mainstream.
And yet those of us who were successful in our jobs, go-getters, career-oriented, accomplished, whatever we thought about ourselves then, we don't stop striving and wanting to be successful and accomplished just because we have left our jobs.  Retirement is its own kind of career where we want to succeed and make a difference but it comes with its own stresses.

Here are some retirement stresses I am dealing with:
  • It's very stressful to try to get out of the house by noon.
I know.  Laugh if you want to but there are morning people and not morning people.  I fall into the not morning people category.  Sleeping in as long as I want in the morning is one thing I DON'T need to stress about.  So I try very hard to not schedule anything for myself before noon because when you figure that I sleep until at least 9am and then have to make the bed, read the paper, empty the dishwasher, clean up Hubby's breakfast mess (he gets up WAY before I do), watch "The View," get dressed, fix hair, make-up, all of which takes loads more time now that I am old - by then the morning is over. 

Even without all of that stuff, there is always some household or mental distraction that keeps me from getting out the door any earlier.  It would just be too, too stressful to be anywhere earlier than that.  However, I do have some volunteer obligations that require that I leave the house before 10 so you can imagine how stressful those days are.
  • It's stressful to see the pile of books I have accumulated that I thought I was going to read when I retired.

  • It's stressful to go to the gym and get weighed by my trainer after two grande lattes (I know what you are thinking. If I would get up earlier and get to the gym before I had those lattes, I would weigh less...not an option).
  • It's stressful when someone asks "What did you do all day" and my reply is "Uh..."

  • It's stressful to try to get everything I'm not doing done to make the 4pm deadline for Happy Hour with Hubby with a smile on my face

  • It's stressful to keep to my blog schedule when I don't have anything to write about.

  • It's stressful to have to schedule time to de-stress with meditation.

  • It's stressful to go mall walking and see something I want to buy that I don't need, buy it and then try to cram it into my closets that are already full of stuff I don't need.

  •  It's stressful to say no to someone when they want me to do something for them and they know I have "all of the time in the world" but I don't want to do it.
  • It's stressful to get to the end of the day and realize I am still wearing my nightgown.
  • It's stressful to lie in bed at night thinking about the day and not remembering anything meaningful that I did except maybe check Facebook and eat a protein bar.
  • It's stressful to know that I have a "to do" list that grows longer each day.

What I have realized is that I was less stressed when I was stressed.
When I was working, it was stressful, but I knew that I needed to get up each day at a certain time, be at work at a certain time, accomplish certain tasks, manage my library in an efficient way, help staff, solve problems and work with the public to try to make a difference in their lives as librarians do. Juggling a job and a family could be stressful but there was comfort in knowing what was expected of me.
Now there are no expectations but my own. I am my own boss and I have discovered I am a tough taskmaster. As I sink into retirement inertia, "my boss" is causing me stress and making me depressed saying things like "Get up off your butt.  You don't need to watch another episode of "Dr. Phil" or "Why are you wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday?" or "What meaningful thing did you accomplish today?"
So what to do?

Tell myself to get off my case.
I realize that like most things in life, retirement will have its own unique ups and downs and this is a temporary shift in my retirement life. When I first retired I was gung-ho and with lists in hand was going to solve the problems of the world, well, at least do some volunteering, take horseback riding lessons and learn to play golf. The volunteer work materialized but not those other two. 

Right now I am in a bit of a lazy period with a dash of "I don't know what the hell to do with my life." But I also realize there will be good days and bad days.  In fact, I talked about that a couple of years ago in "Retirement: Good Days and Bad Days." I should take my own advice. But maybe, like in real life, there will be good weeks and bad weeks or good years and bad years.

I'm just in a slump.

That's just life.

And I guess I have "all of the time in the world" to figure it all out.

But in the meantime, I'm headed to the mall for some exercise and a little retail therapy...because I can.

Like the glasses?


Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of

"Mother's Day"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

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  1. AMEN, Sister! You said it perfectly: "Juggling a job and a family could be stressful but there was comfort in knowing what was expected of me. Now there are no expectations but my own. I am my own boss and I have discovered I am a tough taskmaster." I've been trying to figure out my own retirement malaise and perhaps this is it. I'm hard on myself about not "accomplishing anything", but then am even harder on myself when I don't do anything about it. I don't exactly long for the days when someone told me what to do…but at least I had someone besides myself to "blame" for my stress.

    1. I know. I am still struggling with it. I think I have it all figured out and then I get the blues and can't figure out why. But we will get there. One thing I know for sure, as Oprah would say, I like being my own boss much better than having someone else boss me!