Your Spiritual Journey in Retirement

Navigating the Spiritual Journey of Finding Purpose in Retirement

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Avia

Life is full of change. Although many expect their golden years to be full of content and spiritual satisfaction, they’re often wrong. For many, retirement is a milestone they aspire to reach; a moment when they can put down the burden of the everyday nine-to-five and fully enjoy the fruits of their lifelong labor. You’ve put a ton of effort into getting to this point. Maybe for a while, you feel free and capable of doing what you want when you want it without the oppressive weight of financial pressure. 

However, now that you’ve settled down, you feel something’s missing. Now that you’ve had your moment in the sun, taking time to vacation, enjoy hobbies, or nourish your inner child, you find yourself wondering: what’s next? You might even experience guilt for feeling this way, as the day-to-day reality of retirement often contrasts with the idyllic, stress-free picture painted by most of our cultural media. 

The first thing you should know is that this is natural, and occurs to many who have retired from the workforce. We spend so much of our lives adhering to a strict schedule and contributing to the success of various organizations that it’s our status quo. When that schedule and sense of purpose are stripped away, retirees often experience symptoms of depression such as irritability, a decrease in the ability to take pleasure in hobbies, feelings of hopelessness, and even changes in eating or sleeping habits. 

If you’re experiencing extreme versions of any of these symptoms, the importance of looping in a mental health professional can’t be overstated. What most grappling with post-retirement depression need is to feel they are funneling their energy toward something constructive; to regain a sense of purpose.

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There are many ways you can go about doing this, and the efficacy of all the solutions we’ll describe below will vary from person to person. However, our aim here is to provide you with holistically attuned, practical means to reconnect with yourself spiritually, identify an outlet that grants you that sense of purpose, and empower you to attain an enriched quality of life in your golden years.

Self-care, Home Improvement, and Constructive Hobbying

Your Spiritual Journey in Retirement

Before venturing into all of the opportunities for positive action out there, you may want to first conduct a brief audit of yourself, your home, and your hobbies. Start by asking yourself these simple questions:

  • How much am I keeping up with my self-care routine? Eating at scheduled times, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and even things like haircuts and nail appointments can help you feel at your best, giving you more energy to pursue the things you care about.
  • Is my living space properly kept, or are there things I’ve been putting off doing? Clutter, unswept floors, dust — even home repairs that people tend to put off, like pests, damaged roofing, and air conditioning maintenance can contribute to your overall stress level. You might be surprised at how much freer you feel when they’re all complete. 
  • How constructive do my hobbies feel to me? Some hobbies produce brief, momentary entertainment, while others tend to work toward positive, long-lasting goals. Both are fine in moderation. However, if you feel that your hobbies essentially amount to feeling as though you’ve wasted time, consider taking up hobbies like gardening, cooking, woodworking, or something else in the arts, like writing or painting. 

Taking a moment to sit, relax, and take in your current quality of life is a necessary, if somewhat taxing chore. It offers you a baseline by which to measure your progress and helps you outline goals for your personal and spiritual growth in retirement

Perform Volunteer Work in Your Local Community

Your Spiritual Journey in Retirement

Once you’ve taken a moment to center yourself and understand where you are, look to the place where your presence will do the most concrete good: your local community. Volunteer work allows you to put your energy into giving back to those in need. No matter your choice of where and how you serve, you’ll likely walk away from the experience feeling energized and fulfilled. 

Try looking for opportunities in any of these areas:

  • Serving at your local religious organization. Volunteer work doesn’t need to be spiritual, per se; yet, it can be described as spirituality in service, translating your beliefs into a concrete good for those around you. Regardless of personal belief, churches, mosques, and tabernacles offer plenty of opportunities for volunteers to directly administer aid to their community’s needs. 
  • Go to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are always looking for people to help, and are currently on the front lines of aiding a large and underserved population. Whether you’re only able to dedicate an hour or two a day or work full-time, they would appreciate the support.
  • Get involved with your local schools. Whether you work as a substitute teacher, tutor students after school, or help organize a summer reading program, helping develop the minds of the next generation is a fantastic way to give back to your community.

This is by no means the limit of the opportunities available. Browse your local newspaper, reach out to local nonprofits; your mantra can even be “see a need, fill a need,” and you can perform random acts of kindness to people you see on the street. 

Travel the World and See New Sights

Your Spiritual Journey in Retirement

If neither of those options is enough to help shake off the funk, you might try altering your environment entirely — at least, for a time. Traveling can be a lightning rod for personal growth opportunities, allowing you to experience new cultures, see new sights, and attain a sense of adventure. Going abroad to your ideal destination will not only take an item off your bucket list —it might just help you feel refreshed upon returning. 

When picking your destination (if you don’t already have one in mind, that is), consider the following:

  • How different is their culture from mine, and what opportunities for learning and growth may be available? Do some research on the area you’re planning to visit and highlight opportunities to engage with the local culture (where appropriate). Take some online classes to learn the language before you prep, educate yourself on social cues, and keep an open mind while abroad. 
  • What landmarks are available to visit, and how can I fit them into my schedule? Landmarks are key because they tie you (in the present) to significant events in the area’s history. Visiting locations like the Eiffel Tower in France or Stonehenge in the UK is a touristy thing to do, yes; but it’s also an opportunity to connect better with the area you’re visiting, and learn more about its past. 
  • Are there opportunities to connect spiritually? If so, where and how? If you’re going to a place of spiritual significance to you, identifying religious sites, opportunities to connect with nature, or activities that may help you reconnect with your spiritual side might be worth exploring.

Traveling the world can provide a much-needed jumpstart to your mental health. Still, following the other steps listed above can help you nourish and maintain a better quality of life. 

We hope this brief guide to overcoming post-retirement depression was helpful. Remember, there are loads of resources available to you, and you aren’t alone in how you’re feeling. Overcoming post-retirement depression, or any mental illness, is a journey – a journey best taken one small step at a time. 

About the AuthorAinsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book. (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.