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Old 01-29-2008, 01:09 AM   #21
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I am only (almost) 7 months into retirement, but I believe that I can honestly say that it is a MOST POSITIVE change in my life.
Specifically to answer the questions:
Did you feel more relaxed? Happier? Healthier? Laugh more?
I am more relaxed. I have no time related stress because my time is my own. I do not have any time pressures other than those that I put on myself. Ok, sometimes DW has one or two things ... but if it gets onerous, I remind her that I am in NO particular hurry ANYMORE... and that usually helps us get to a 'negotiated' solution (hey retired doesn't mean I'm not 'married' ya know ). I have time to do things that relax me and so I do them. I have the option of disengaging (one thing you can't always do in a w*rk environment) from stressful situations. So DEFINATELY more relaxed.
Happiness I find is a very personal driven characteristic. I have always been a 'half full' type of a person. IMO, I am street smart and a bit of a cynic as well, but am a fairly 'happy go lucky' type. So having less stress and more time to do what I want to and be with who I want to associate with has added to my happiness factor.
I am MUCH more healthier ... but we had started about 20 years ago with a program of more fruits and veggies (on my part, starting from almost zero ... meat, potatoes, bacon, eggs, ...etc., to me, veggies were a garnish on the plate). At 50, my (new) Dr. gave me a 'kick in the butt'. He said my blood pressure, weight, and cholesteral were all marginal. I would have to start drugs for life if I didn't change my lifestyle. So I got into really trying to change. I dropped 10 pounds, halved my cholesteral, and bp is back into normal (for an old fart) range. I developed 'work related' back problems about 3 years ago. I now have time to do the required exercises, take the necessary walks (up to 2 miles on a good day) to resolve. I am progressively getting better. It took 5 or so years to mess up the back, so it will take some time to fix it.
Don't know about laughing more. I laughed enough before, I think. I just had one of my DW, nieces, husband comment on me not 'acting my age'. It was a very positive comment ... in line with ' ... you don't act like an old f*rt). ... but I do know that I am enjoying lfe more. I have enough time to reflect upon things I had seen and heard during the day.

IMO, all of this relaxed? Happier? Healthier? Laugh more? is related to your outlook on life. I am not a 'Pollyanna'. I actually have very low expectations from people (cynic in me). However, on the plus side, people always meet or exceed my expectations . So I don't get stressed as much, I am more apt to be ok with whatever is going on.
One thing that also helps is my ability to 'bucketize' things into 'important' and 'not important'. As I get older (and related to when I was w*rking, as I got closer to my planned retirement), a lot of things fell off of my important list and got put on the not important list. So I don't get excited or mad or stress over many things I used to. This adds to the relaxed, happier, healthier state.

Will this change as time goes on? I see some evidence (on this forum) that it does for some. I think I won't be one of them, but we will see.
I do know that having this forum to disclose, debate, learn, and share helps alot. For that I thank everyone.
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:40 AM   #22
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Most people on this forum can tell you their investment mix and returns since 2001 (or earlier).

I can tell you the results of all components of my blood tests since July 2001, when I was diagnosed as diabetic, since I keep my test results on a spreadsheet.

Even though I made an effort to get "things under control" from 2001 to when I retired (2007), I find my ability to control my diabetes is much easier since I'm retired.

I'm one of the "lucky ones" who can manage the condition with diet/exercise (yes, I know diabetes does progress, and I'll be on to the meds/insulin in the future).

However, since I've retired, the results of my blood tests (also related to heart) have remained easier to keep "in the zone".

Why? By my retirement lifestyle. I exercise more (2 miles, 5 days/week on the treadmill during my wor**ing years, 5 miles, 7 days/week now).

My diet is much better (no cafeteria/fast food). Additionally rather than large meals, I tend to eat small portions throughout the day, which keeps my glucose levels on an "even keel".

As those that are diabetic know, stress is a great impact to keeping your levels at an acceptable level. Since I've retired, my stress levels have been greatly reduced. How do I know? I have a smile on my face every day - something that was quite infrequent in the work-a-day world.

I'm living proof (and I have the records to back it up) that retirement is good for you, in a "health sense".

Additionally, I do some "good works" (deliver meals to shut-ins, 2 days a week). It's something that I want to do, not have to do, and it also improves my outlook since it shows me that I have a lot to be thankful for. Additionally, I give blood every 8 weeks. Something I could/should have done when I was wor**ing, but never found the time.

Life is good...

- Ron
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Old 01-29-2008, 01:41 PM   #23
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However, retirement, itself, is a significant source of stress. I remember reading that there is a striking increase in deaths within the first 3 years of retirement, even adjusted for age.
Don't forget that quite a few folks 'retire early' not because they can, but because they are unable to continue working, often for medical reasons. This is very common for 'early retirees' in their late 50's to early 60's. I'd expect to see a higher mortality rate in this group.

Where a wide range of people (not self-selected) have been forced to retire early, as by large plant closings, the health of early retirees does not seem to be adversely affected by sudden job loss and unexpected retirement. The largest risk appears to be risks from lack of medical care and depletion of resources, including funds.
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Old 01-29-2008, 06:04 PM   #24
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I am not yet ER, but I am FI and I have been spending a lot of time considering the non-financial aspects of retiring lately. Found reading How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free (Zelinkski, repetitive but good content IMO) and Work Less, Live More (Clyatt) to be a thought provoking way for me to consider how ready I will be to adjust. I'd recommend either, and there are undoubtedly others. I also read The New Retirement and Don't Retire, Rewire and didn't think they were as helpful. Best of luck...
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Old 01-29-2008, 06:54 PM   #25
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When I was working I found that on long vacations of 3 weeks or more I was sleeping a lot better. That was a clue that I was stressed out a bit even though I had a fairly low stress job.

After retirement I think I probably sleep a little better now especially in the winter when it's cool and the daylight doesn't wake me. I still find that I tend to sleep better on vacation from home. My interpretation is that the little things like watching the news, reading newpapers & magazines, checking finances, paying bills, etc. are still a mild source of stress. I'm sure not everyone reacts the same way.
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:46 PM   #26
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I have been ER'd since May 2007 and have yet to slow down. My sleep-wake cycle has always been a bit off and w*rking made it worse because of getting up early but still not being able to sleep until after midnight most nights. I have gone from sleeping about 5 hours a night to almost 7. That is a HUGE difference for me.

I know that someday my current schedule will slow down and I welcome the day when we are able to actually kick back and do nothing for a while. I guess I need a vacation from my retirement.
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Old 02-03-2008, 01:01 PM   #27
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Don't forget that quite a few folks 'retire early' not because they can, but because they are unable to continue working, often for medical reasons. This is very common for 'early retirees' in their late 50's to early 60's. I'd expect to see a higher mortality rate in this group.

Where a wide range of people (not self-selected) have been forced to retire early, as by large plant closings, the health of early retirees does not seem to be adversely affected by sudden job loss and unexpected retirement. The largest risk appears to be risks from lack of medical care and depletion of resources, including funds.
I just happen to be one of those forced into ER because of medical problems, four years ago at age 49. In my case my company went to a two tire wage system a while ago. Now when someone is injured, instead of working with them to return, apparently it is cheaper to have them disability retire and hire a new worker at less wage. Experience does not count to the bean counters. The result has been more ER's. Myself and two people I know personally have been caught in this. All three of us are doing well, in fact better than when we were working. In my case I'm at 60% of former base pay but tax free untill age 65 then I will have a smaller than anticapated pension, I plan on having my IRA bail me out at that time. That is a major reason to be unstressed. I did not like being taken out during my prime earning years and being told you have to retire does have some stress, but it is easy to get over it if you are OK finacially. Ironically all three of us are physically better than when we were working, and mentally free of work related stress. I now think it is the best thing my former employer ever did for me. Think-free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last. My retirement will be somewhat less finacially full, but my life will be longer and happier IMHO.

Seen a simular thing happen with my father. He got lung cancer at age 56. It turned out to be a life changing event. He was the kind of person to work all the hours available, then take a vacation and work his butt off at home, or his cabin, after his cancer he shocked everyone and suddenly retired with less $, but really enjoyed life. He took mom and moved to his cabin, he fished three or four times per week, took on jobs he wanted to do, and lived it up for 17 more years. So I had a good example to go by........shredder
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Old 02-04-2008, 07:51 PM   #28
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I am not retired, but three years ago I cut my work hours to 20/week (max!) I think the biggest improvement for me has been in sleep. I had been running on 5 or 6 hours per night, now I get 8 or 9. I feel so much better. My work life is unstressed, in part because I am no longer so invested in my job. I take what comes and I don't worry about the rest.

Shredder: My dad started having heart problems at age 56. The doctor suggested he retire. He had a hard time with that concept, but once he quit work, his heart problems vanished. He spent the rest of his life puttering tranquilly. Died of non-heart-related illness a couple years ago at age 73. I'm really glad he had the time to relax and enjoy life.
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:30 PM   #29
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Most people on this forum can tell you their investment mix and returns since 2001 (or earlier).

I can tell you the results of all components of my blood tests since July 2001, when I was diagnosed as diabetic, since I keep my test results on a spreadsheet.

Even though I made an effort to get "things under control" from 2001 to when I retired (2007), I find my ability to control my diabetes is much easier since I'm retired.

I'm one of the "lucky ones" who can manage the condition with diet/exercise (yes, I know diabetes does progress, and I'll be on to the meds/insulin in the future).

However, since I've retired, the results of my blood tests (also related to heart) have remained easier to keep "in the zone".

Why? By my retirement lifestyle. I exercise more (2 miles, 5 days/week on the treadmill during my wor**ing years, 5 miles, 7 days/week now).

My diet is much better (no cafeteria/fast food). Additionally rather than large meals, I tend to eat small portions throughout the day, which keeps my glucose levels on an "even keel".

As those that are diabetic know, stress is a great impact to keeping your levels at an acceptable level. Since I've retired, my stress levels have been greatly reduced. How do I know? I have a smile on my face every day - something that was quite infrequent in the work-a-day world.

I'm living proof (and I have the records to back it up) that retirement is good for you, in a "health sense".

Additionally, I do some "good works" (deliver meals to shut-ins, 2 days a week). It's something that I want to do, not have to do, and it also improves my outlook since it shows me that I have a lot to be thankful for. Additionally, I give blood every 8 weeks. Something I could/should have done when I was wor**ing, but never found the time.

Life is good...

- Ron
Ron, thanks for your post....good to hear. I know many diabetics, my dad has type II. I am "at risk", but I am in my late 40s and work hard to keep my weight down, I exercise 3-4 times/week, and I've severely cut back on alcohol and red meats. My blood pressure is excellent.

I'm looking forward to many of the stress reducers you mention.

Keep on enjoying...I'll join you in 7-8 years. Looking forward to it.

Dave
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:14 PM   #30
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The health benefits have been amazing in just 6 months. I've lost 20 pounds, cut out fast food (since I'm not having to grab and gulp driving between meetings), blood pressure has dropped to 117/72, and I am starting to reduce dosage or eliminate 4 medications. I have plenty of time to cook, read, meditate, travel and exercise. (I've plateaued weight-wise so I'm going out to buy a cruising bike soon). My friends say it takes about a year to fully decompress, but I'm loving what I'm seeing so far. Well, got to go...getting ready to drive from Houston to Atlanta to visit the grandkids. Be back in a week or so...Life is good!
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:51 PM   #31
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My blood pressure went down 20 points almost immediately upon early retirement. In addition, I was not stressed about vacations (being gone from job) and never felt I even needed one anymore since I was so much calmer around the house. Being at home or driving around town was so pleasurable.
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:30 AM   #32
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... In addition, I was not stressed about vacations (being gone from job) and never felt I even needed one anymore since I was so much calmer around the house. Being at home or driving around town was so pleasurable.
Isn't ER kind of like a vacation...except for the fact that you have all the time in the world to enjoy it? As I ponder it, I think about all the things I want to do in ER, and they are the same things I want to do on vacation...putter around the house, sleep in when I want, get up early when I want, travel when I want...etc.

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Old 03-01-2008, 11:14 AM   #33
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The first year or so is kind of a honeymoon... it is just so great to feel like you are on vacation all the time. The second year I'm starting to want a purpose in life. I'm young (under 40) so I feel like there's still more for me to accomplish but I'm just not sure what. I tend to do well with structured time, so I've been taking classes at community college. I got a massage certification and I've been volunteering massaging AIDS patients, which is some of the most rewarding work I've ever done.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:12 PM   #34
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"When I want. . ." is the operative phrase, isn't it?

It's what I've been telling folks for the last month (I'm retiring in May).
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:27 PM   #35
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I've been retired since 12/31/06 and the first year was definitely like being on an extended vacation. In year two, I started volunteering and it's been a wonderfully rewarding activity.

As far as stress and happiness are concerned, absolutely retirement has been a major positive change. I don't remember ever being as happy as an adult as I am now in retirement and my stress level --along with most of my little ailments -- have pretty much disappeared.

One interesting note, however. Recently my Dad has been hospitalized and I was driving across town daily to visit him first in the hospital and then when he was released, at his home. I've been handling the scheduling of his visiting nurse and doctor appointments along with doing most of his daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, etc. I THOUGHT that this wouldn't be a big deal -- after all, I am free during the day. Actually my stress level accelerated right back up to where it was when I was most stressed at work! For the past week or so, I can't sleep well, my exercise routine is out the window, and for the first time in more than a year, I found myself eating fast food in the car while on the way across town. My back is starting to ache, and I know my blood pressure is up. This stress stuff is weird indeed.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:35 PM   #36
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One interesting note, however. Recently my Dad has been hospitalized and I was driving across town daily to visit him first in the hospital and then when he was released, at his home. I've been handling the scheduling of his visiting nurse and doctor appointments along with doing most of his daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, etc. I THOUGHT that this wouldn't be a big deal -- after all, I am free during the day. Actually my stress level accelerated right back up to where it was when I was most stressed at work! For the past week or so, I can't sleep well, my exercise routine is out the window, and for the first time in more than a year, I found myself eating fast food in the car while on the way across town. My back is starting to ache, and I know my blood pressure is up. This stress stuff is weird indeed.
My migraines diminished greatly after my mother died; and she had told me the same concerning her mother.
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:26 PM   #37
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Did your relationships with family improve?
some things are beyond our control.

Did you feel more relaxed?
didn't you see me transform from a rock solid tensed stress machine to
a gently flowing pool of liquid joy?

Happier?
my PT told me if i could learn to relax, i could scale mountains. i told him if he could teach me to relax, there might be a Nobel prize in it for him. LOL

Healthier? a serious case of RSI and carpal tunnel and tendonitis and blah blah blah has gone from 24/7 pain to minor pain once in a while if i overdo.

Laugh more? as stated in an earlier post, all the way to the bank!

good post by the way.
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Old 03-03-2008, 12:05 AM   #38
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I would like to ER ASAP, but it seems that people I know and have watched retire, seem to pack it in a couple of years later. Is it due to health reasons before retirement? Lack of interaction? Lack of brain stimulation? Who knows?
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Old 03-03-2008, 12:59 AM   #39
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I would like to ER ASAP, but it seems that people I know and have watched retire, seem to pack it in a couple of years later. Is it due to health reasons before retirement? Lack of interaction? Lack of brain stimulation? Who knows?
hmmm, watch this space for a few years I guess.

btw, how old were these people you knew. Also did they retire/quit for health reasons? Curious, how many people in your sample?

I think (or hope) that retiring/stopping work for health reasons may skew the results.
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Old 03-03-2008, 07:44 AM   #40
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I would like to ER ASAP, but it seems that people I know and have watched retire, seem to pack it in a couple of years later. Is it due to health reasons before retirement? Lack of interaction? Lack of brain stimulation? Who knows?
Maybe it's due to a small sample. I suppose most people retire at 65, but the median life expectancy in the U.S. is considerably higher than 67. I think it's around 75 or 80.

The question that comes to my mind, is why are the people you know dying so young in comparison with the rest of the U.S. population? Are they mostly dying due to the same thing?
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