What to do in retirement

What should you choose to focus on, once you are retired? Ticking off your goals, spending time with family, or perhaps travel? Retirement is often referred to as the best time in a person's life. After all, you've worked so hard to get here, and now it is time to make sure nothing takes the shine off this new chapter in your life.

Staying active and healthy is always important, but it is particularly important as you age. Here are six things you can do in retirement to keep your wellbeing in-check and live your golden years to their fullest.

1. Don’t forget the basics

As a first step to an active and healthy retirement, it’s recommended that you eat a varied and balanced diet from the five essential food groups:

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans.
  • Fruits.
  • Grain foods, including wholegrain or high-fibre breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles and barley.
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds.
  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that more than nine in 10 older Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.1 One way to combat this is to add more vegetables to soups and casseroles. Meals such as these can be cooked in large portions and frozen to make meal times easier and nutritious.

Try aiming for 30 minutes a day walking, swimming, gardening or doing some other physical activity. You may feel much better and notice a huge improvement to your blood-pressure, muscle strength, and cholesterol levels, while also reducing your risk of dementia and other health issues.2

Staying active often means you’re also more socially active – another key factor to a healthy and happy retirement.3

2. Stay social

Joining a group or community organisation can provide the social support and community spirit that you may miss after leaving the workforce. It can also provide a sense of responsibility and purpose as you plan, share and grow with others over shared interests. Local RSL clubs and community groups are great places to start connecting.

A like-minded group can also encourage you to pursue passions and hobbies that you never before had the time to explore. Ask around about local book clubs, arts and crafts groups and other hobby-based events. If you can’t find anything you’re interested in, you can also start a new group, beginning with your friends.

3. Find a purpose

Volunteering can also provide a sense of purpose in your life – all while doing good and helping those in need. Local charity shops, hospitals, soup kitchens and homeless centres are often in need of an extra set of hands and will appreciate the help you can provide – whether that’s organising hampers, working a day a week or contributing to local clean-ups.

While retirement usually marks the end of your working life, some retirees choose to incorporate a little work alongside the other activities they have planned. This not only helps retain a sense of purpose in your life, but can also boost your retirement income.

4. Keep learning

Learning something new stretches our minds, contributes to a rich and fulfilling life, and provides a sense of achievement.

There’s no reason to stop learning now that you’ve retired. In fact, it’s the perfect time to try something new or master a skill you’ve always wanted to learn.

Local community centres offer free or affordable classes in a variety of areas, including:

  • Languages.
  • Computer skills.
  • Dance and exercise.
  • Arts and crafts.
  • History, psychology and literature.
  • History, psychology and literature.

5. Get a pet

A furry or feathered friend can provide great companionship. Not only will your pet enjoy the love, attention and care you can provide as a retiree, but you’ll also enjoy some benefits yourself. Studies show that pet ownership is associated with:

  • Increased cardiovascular health (lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides and, in men, lower cholesterol).
  • Increased physical activity (dogs especially encourage us to get out and about every day).
  • Fewer visits to the doctor.4

6. Discover new places, see new things

Nothing broadens the mind like travel, whether it’s an overseas trip, a day trip to the country or simply trying that new café in town. You never know what you might discover and who you might meet when you take a different path from your usual routine.

What are you waiting for? Read up on the ideal travel locations, get in the car and start driving, or turn left instead of right on your usual morning walk. These years are full of new adventures, so go out and make the most of them!

Organising travel insurance before departing is the best way to ensure you’re covered in case something goes wrong, so you can enjoy your travels without worrying about what could happen.