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anxiety and retirement
Old 08-30-2020, 08:43 AM   #1
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anxiety and retirement

Hi all. I have not been here in a while. My plan had been to retire at the end of 2021. From a financial perspective, there's no issue at all -- we don't spend lavishly and have saved much more than we would ever need.

But about a decade ago, I developed an anxiety problem. Not just the usual "high stress professional" thing -- though that too -- but a more significant anxiety disorder, which has required psychotherapy and, at times, though not right now, medication.

The "best" way I have found to deal with this problem is to stay very busy. When I am working a 12 hour day, there's not much room for the anxiety. That is hardly a cure -- but it is pretty much the only thing that consistently works.

I have some concern that with retirement -- and more downtime -- the anxiety will be worse. Of course, I can "stay busy" in retirement -- find various things to do -- and I plan to do that. But it will not be the same level of keeping occupied as my job, which can be pretty intense, with long hours. And of course I do not want it to be.

Has anyone here made the transition to retirement with an anxiety disorder, and might have some advice?

I could of course just keep working, increasing my kids' inheritance and keeping the anxiety at bay through avoidance. But I really do not want to do that!

Thanks for any insights/experience/advice.
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Old 08-30-2020, 08:50 AM   #2
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That's a tough one. I don't have any answers but feel for you. I too need to stay busy. Not sure if it reduces anxiety as I always can find something to be anxious about. Lol. Work, investments, golf, etc.... There is always something that I can worry about. I find non-work stress to be more enjoyable than work stress so am trying to work less. In all seriousness I would definitely do regular talk therapy on this. Not that talk therapy provides a quick "fix" but it might help you longterm. Good luck!
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Old 08-30-2020, 08:58 AM   #3
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Would exercise help? Get enough that you're pretty tired afterward, and want/need some rest time.
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Old 08-30-2020, 09:39 AM   #4
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Would exercise help? Get enough that you're pretty tired afterward, and want/need some rest time.
+1 on the exercise. If you get into running/golf/pickleball/tennis as a few examples, it can eat up 2-5 hours daily.

Gardening is another hobby, which many folks take up in retirement and this can take up a decent amount of time and requires some planning of sorts.

Managing your own investments can require some time in spurts.

Cooking can take up some daily time and can be very satisfying.

Perhaps some meditation can help smooth things out.

I wish you the best.
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Old 08-30-2020, 10:28 AM   #5
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I've suffered with anxiety most of my life including during retirement. Last year I decided to really get help without medication as it makes me feel worse.

I've seen various professionals that didn't help much but I sought out a psychologist who was willing to focus on anxiety. Most of what we did was understanding the causes of anxiety(put in a situation you don't believe you possess the skills to deal with) and how to control your reactions to the stimulus. There's many techniques to use, my favorite is deep breathing. When properly utilized it's as effective, for me, as benzos without the nasty blahs they cause.

Exercise, proper diet and sleep can all help too. Meditation, breathing and proper self awareness all help me.
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:20 PM   #6
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Thanks, all. Exercise does help. I am not someone who is naturally inclined toward it, but I force myself. I usually feel less anxious for a short time after I exercise. But then it returns...

MRG: Did your anxiety get worse after you retired? Did more free time = more room for anxiety?

Benzos work great, but I go that route very rarely -- in part because they make me tired, but more so because they are addictive, and I don't want that. I tried SSRIs too, but I think they did more harm that good. Seen a couple of psychologists as well, who were smart people with interesting insights. But no cure there.

I have worked hard to be able to have a nice retirement, and everything else is in place -- kids nearly on their own, no debt, good enough physical health, accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish professionally, and saved enough money so that money is not a concern. But this damned anxiety really does affect quality of life...
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:56 PM   #7
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I don't know if I had more anxiety post retirement but I probably became more aware of it. I didn't have any deadlines or customer issues to mask where my anxiety came from. I had the awareness and the time to live life without it.

DW did some work with a biofeedback person for a severe migraine and it's very interesting; it's also a good anxiety treatment if you can find a good provider.
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Old 08-30-2020, 01:19 PM   #8
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I feel for you, anxiety sucks. I never had anxiety until my hormones started to change. I'm glad you are being cautious with the benzos, I hear withdrawals are horrible, bt they sure are a life saver when needed.

My anxiety went way down after I retired. Between lack of job stress and my hormones settling down I don't really have it anymore.

I hope your anxiety goes away too.
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Old 08-30-2020, 06:41 PM   #9
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I agree on the exercise suggestion.
I'm getting very involved in slightly longer distance bike riding.
What really helped was finding others interested, and getting a much better seat.

Could your work be the cause?

JP
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Originally Posted by Dtail View Post
+1 on the exercise. If you get into running/golf/pickleball/tennis as a few examples, it can eat up 2-5 hours daily.

Gardening is another hobby, which many folks take up in retirement and this can take up a decent amount of time and requires some planning of sorts.

Managing your own investments can require some time in spurts.

Cooking can take up some daily time and can be very satisfying.

Perhaps some meditation can help smooth things out.

I wish you the best.
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Old 08-30-2020, 09:58 PM   #10
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I have a mild anxiety. It improved quite a bit after retirement. No Work Stress!
I also limit my news access.
I have used meditation and breathing techniques for years, they work well for me.
I try to do something every day that helps me relax and that I enjoy: reading a good book, taking a walk, work in the garden/flowerbed, volunteering with kids.
I limit caffeine to mornings only and usually only 2 cups of coffee, rarely drink soda or alcohol.
I do use a CBD/THC cream for neck arthritis that is getting worse and I notice my anxiety improves when the pain decreases. I am sure the absorbed THC helps with the anxiety, too.
I do have xanax, but I use half a tab maybe once or twice a week. 30 pills can last me 4-6 months.
I did do some talk therapy when I was younger and it helped.
You may need to try various things to find what works best for you.
Best of Luck.
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Old 08-31-2020, 03:48 AM   #11
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Never diagnosed with anxiety disorder but struggled with some level of anxiety much of my life. I think MRG summed it up best for me: (put in a situation you don't believe you possess the skills to deal with). Remove me from such situations and anxiety disappears to one degree or another (in my case, anyway.) SO, retirement (with adequate means) has lowered my anxiety level - a lot. I still struggle with "issues" that I'm not certain I can handle, but it's much better than it was while empl*yed. Best of luck and DO check back often.
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:15 AM   #12
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I have generalized anxiety . I even tried pills . That was a disaster . It made my anxiety worse . Now I take L theanine 200 mg. two pills every morning and it really helps .
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:38 AM   #13
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Have been on Medications for a long time for Depression/Anxiety. Did effect me more while I was working long & unpredictable hours.

Nowadays while not working, it just takes a setback in inter relationships with relatives to mess up my sanity & takes me few weeks to get back my equilibrium.

I will say, the volunteer work, walking, some meditation, Yoga & a little gardening have helped some. Yes Benzos do help momentarily but am careful to take them only on a prn basis. Maybe I need to look into talk therapy with a Psychologist

The Covid has definitely not helped.
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:50 AM   #14
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I plan to retire sometime in the next couple of years, so I can't answer your question. I sure hope that retirement lessens anxiety. For me, work is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for me ever since I started 35 years ago. I tried benzos in the early 90's, and they were just too addictive for me. I spent 6 months slowly tapering off of them. Then I found a job that was less stressful, and I spent my career avoiding the tasks that caused anxiety. Not the best career path, but it worked for me. Best of luck to you.
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:51 AM   #15
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Old 08-31-2020, 09:25 AM   #16
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Still w*rking but I have been diagnosed with GAD. As someone else mentioned it has gotten a lot worse due to going through menopause. No meds for me, except for the occasional xanax, SSRI's and SNRI's have way too many side effects for me to tolerate. I try to keep it under control with meditation, talk therapy, and mindfulness. Hope to greatly increase my time spent exercising when I FIRE.

Much of my anxiety is focused on work and I am hoping that if I keep up the good habits that keep me calm that not having constant w*rk stress will help a lot. Just anecdotal evidence but we were furloughed for 5 weeks in the past few years. After about three weeks my anxiety levels dropped tremendously, I felt WAY less stressed and was able to focus and be more relaxed and productive at home. Hoping that the pattern repeats itself when I FIRE next year.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:31 AM   #17
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My coping mechanism for anxiety in retirement is to continue to participate in competitive athletic events. Sports of choice are trail running and cycling (mountain bikes, gravel and cyclocross races). Year-round training brings the fitness I need in retirement while registering for events gives purpose, motivation for daily exercise and fitness goals. Races are typically divided into either age groups or skill level (beginner, sport or pro). Currently racing in the 55-60 sport age group.

Itís funny how the focus during a race (or a training session) is the next 50 or 100 feet or athlete in front of you and all the anxiety and stress of work or retirement life is gone.

And it matters not where I place in an event. I rarely land on the podium but mostly end up in a satisfying middle of the pack finish. As long as I avoid ďDFLĒ ... Dead eFFing Last ... Iím happy and in a low-anxiety state.

This weeks event is a mountain bike time trial so that we can keep a safe social distance from others. Racing the clock isnít as satisfying as mass start events but itís whatís available until we are over the pandemic.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:05 AM   #18
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I developed a fear of heights on our honeymoon in Mexico, 36 years ago. I walked up an ancient Mayan Ruin (to the top) walked around to the back. Not expecting to see a drop into the ocean onto rocks, I froze. Crawled down on my hands and knees, sweating, shaking...so embarrassing. My poor husband. My fear remained pretty much for the rest of my life. The movie "High Anxiety" with Mel Brooks was pretty much me. Afraid of glass elevators, afraid of anything that had a steep drop off.



Anxiety then became familiar. We moved to Chicago, traffic such that you sat for an hour or two without moving. People everywhere walking/looking aimless and unconcerned. It's weird, anxiety is more common than you think. Watch the Mel Brooks movie. You'll see how relatable it is. One time I made a U turn on an interstate because I had an anxiety attack. A cop saw it, turned on the lights and siren. It was ~35 degrees outside and I had the A/C on in the car. He saw that and realized I was having an anxiety attack, let me go, said he'd follow me for awhile. I drove through toll booths throwing a fist full of coins in, no idea how much. I thought I'd die.



When I tell these stories, they become funny. Think about it. The big bad monster inside your head is causing heart palpitations, panic, fear, loss of any common sense. Do you realize how many people go to the ER thinking they're having a heart attack and it's anxiety? What helped me is realizing the big picture. Everyone has these issues, I don't care how strong you think you are. Just keep thinking millions of people are feeling the same way I am. That helped me.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:11 AM   #19
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Not sure where you live but if you happen to be somewhere that THC is legal, it could really help. I don't routinely suffer from anxiety but on occasion I will get in a slump that can almost be debilitating. My primary doc mentioned that a low dose of THC had helped some of her patients so I gave it a try...and wow...what a difference. An added bonus is that I get the absolute BEST sleep when I have "dosed." I tend to stick with just edibles since the effects aren't as traditional as smoking pot and a pretty low dose has a nice effect for me without feeling "high"
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Old 08-31-2020, 12:01 PM   #20
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Do you realize how many people go to the ER thinking they're having a heart attack and it's anxiety? What helped me is realizing the big picture. Everyone has these issues, I don't care how strong you think you are. Just keep thinking millions of people are feeling the same way I am. That helped me.
My first really good panic attack ended with me in the ER insisting I had a heart attack. That was back when mental care was not mandated and wasn't part of my insurance.

Ouch.
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