Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

The Stress of No Stress

I’m fond of praising the freedom and low stress levels of retirement. And like others I know, having nothing on my agenda is a treat. It’s like being a kid and wandering into a room full of toys. The only challenge is where to begin.

Not all people are like that. Not having stress can be a stress too if you are the type of person who thrives on the tensions of direction and drive (formerly known as “work”).

This topic deserves a book. I’m hoping a few paragraphs will do today. The ones below are from, “'You will have an emotional reboot': the ultimate guide to stress at every age,” an article in The Guardian by Paula Cocozza. She takes us through the stresses and anxieties of each stage of life and ways to cope.

In the 55-70 stage, death (of friends and family) and couple relationships are frequent stress-inducers. And this:

For those who have associated stress with a busy working life, it can be hard to recognize listlessness as a sign of anxiety, while those who are new to retirement might be running on adrenaline, with nowhere to spend it, no sense of purpose.

For some, Dodd observes “a kind of competitive retirement” in which there is “a new pressure on people to have a great time.” Regrets can loom large. And underlying all this is deep uncertainty about what lies ahead.

(Quoted is Celia Dodd, author of a book entitled, Not Fade Away: How to Thrive in Retirement.)

“Competitive retirement” and pressure to have a great time. Those are new to me.

Negative pressure in retirement, writes Cocozza, can grow in the 55-70 stage of life. Health worries are prone to multiply. Procrastination can further stagnate the listless. Some people get stuck ruminating glumly on past disappointments and what they will never be able to do.

The light? Acceptance, says Dodd. And thinking about the good things you did rather than the ones you didn’t do. A changing of the story is needed if story holds you back.

And people. “Our values change,” says Dodd. “We put less emphasis on ambition and more on relationships, other people, which is very rewarding.”

“Work fills up this big space in our life, and it is a question of finding new things that have value.”

Finding new things that have value. In the retirement hall of wisdom and practicality that’s a common refrain and worthy chant.

And don’t forget Ikigai. Aim for the sweet spot.


Competitive Retirement

Vocabuteria: juju