Finding Purpose in Life After Retirement

On this episode of A Wiser Retirement Podcast, Casey Smith introduces special guest, Tara Arnold, PhD, LCSW, CEDS-S, RYT-200, Clinical Co-Director of WholeHeart Psychotherapy. Dr. Arnold talks about how to find purpose in life after retirement. She also discusses marriage in retirement, signs of depression, mindfulness, and depression and anxiety management. It is important to build a psychological retirement portfolio so you can prioritize your mental health in retirement.

Listen on Apple Podcasts or watch on YouTube:


Building a Psychological Retirement Portfolio

More often than not, people think retirement will be easy. However, retirees quickly conclude it is not. Retirement needs to be planned for financially and psychologically. The best way to do this is by building a psychological retirement portfolio. This will help you cope with the emotional side of retirement and create a new sense of identity. A great way to begin this process is by identifying your hobbies, passions, friendships, and financial budget.

Marriage in Retirement

The start of retirement can be a beautiful opportunity to redefine your relationship. After you retire, you will most likely be spending more time with your spouse. Because of this, it is important to set boundaries and expectations with your spouse before retirement. Start the conversation early to talk about your hopes and dreams for retirement. It is important to be honest and communicate what each person needs to be happy.

The Sugar Rush Effect

In retirement, sometimes retirees deal with something called the sugar rush effect. In the beginning stages of retirement, most retirees are very happy because they can enjoy traveling, golfing, and other hobbies. However, there can be a significant drop in emotional well-being for some people because those activities may not provide the same sense of purpose. To avoid the sugar rush effect, have a plan for the psychological ups and downs of retirement.

Signs of Depression in Retirement

There are a few signs of depression to watch for in retirement. The most common signs of depression in retirement include a disinterest in previously enjoyed activities, self-isolation, worries about the future, and negative thoughts. A good way to avoid these feelings is to think about what you have to gain in retirement versus what you have to lose. It is important to find a new sense of purpose after retirement so you can avoid these feelings of depression.

Finding Your Purpose in Retirement

Start by gathering insight into who you are. Ask yourself: What is important to me? What do I enjoy? Answering these questions will help create a pathway for yourself. For example, if you enjoy working with animals, volunteer at an animal shelter. You could also involve yourself in the community or even start your own business. Make sure to have a plan for each day. Try to fit in self-care, exercise, and time for hobbies. This will enable you to find purpose in retirement.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Being invested in your family is a wonderful thing. However, it is important to set healthy boundaries with your loved ones. Start by having a conversation with your family about your concerns. This will allow for understanding and a healthy start to open communication.

The Importance of Mindfulness

There can be many ups and downs in retirement. Three ways to practice mindfulness in retirement are to be deliberate in which activities you choose to participate in, stay engaged, and be physically active. Find which activities will be best for you by asking other people what they like to do. This could give you an idea of what’s out there. You could also receive counseling for help with finding which activities might be right for you.

Depression and Anxiety Management

If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, it is important to find anxiety reduction techniques that work for you. A few ways to manage depression or anxiety include meditation, relaxation techniques, gratitude practice, and physical activity. Overall, these practices can have a positive effect on your mental health and well-being.

Download our white paper on “Your Pre-Retirement Checklist”


0:00 Intro

2:49 Building a Psychological Retirement Portfolio

8:34 or 17:17 Marriage in Retirement

9:48 The Sugar Rush Effect

11:27 Signs of Depression in Retirement

13:38 or 21:45 Finding Your Purpose

23:57 Set Healthy Boundaries

26:24 The Importance of Mindfulness

31:51 Depression and Anxiety Management



Learn more about Tara Arnold.

Learn more about Casey Smith and connect with him on Twitter.

Learn more about Brad Lyons.

Learn more about Matthews Barnett.


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Learn more about A Wiser Retirement podcast and access previous episodes.


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