For many, post-retirement represents the golden years of a stressless life, free of the demands of work obligations. But retirement can be stressful in a different way; without work, what do you do? How do you meet people? According to The Washington Post, “some 10 to 24 percent [of people] experience a significant drop in their health and well-being” after retiring. Daily interactions and casual mingling can be increasingly sparse. Scientists have started to focus more on socialization as a key to happiness and overall health. Psychologist Steve Brody, who co-wrote Renew Your Marriage at Midlife, puts an emphasis on post-retirement socialization. “We are social creatures, so we need to stay connected with others,” he says.
So what can be done about this dilemma? Become a member of a social group! BMJ Open published a study including 848 participants over 50, half in retirement and half still working (the control group), in which they examined the subjects’ quality of life and mortality for six years. What they found is that people who engaged in professional or leisure groups – that’s right, book clubs included – not only experienced a better quality of life within those six years of post-retirement, but were also at lower risk of death.
There are a number of factors that play into a person’s overall health: socioeconomic status, relationships, gender, physical activity, etc. However the impact of social life cannot be ignored. According to the study, “the effect of social group memberships on mortality was comparable to that of physical exercise.” And don’t just wait for retirement to engage in such groups; start today! The study also found that those who were a part of social groups before retirement had an even better quality of life before and after retirement. For all of us book lovers, joining a book club could make us even happier!
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1Syr5Ya.