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Is Retirement Giving You Cold Feet?

Counseling for seniors in Pinhurst NC, retirement pinehurst NC, CCS Pinehurst NC, Carolina Counseling Services

Is Retirement Giving You Cold Feet?


Time indeed flies fast, especially when you are busy, living and braving your challenges. Before you know it, retirement is at hand. While retirement can be potentially enjoyable, it also comes with changes and challenges. If you are getting “cold feet,” relax – it isn’t unusual.

Getting cold feet or losing your nerve is expected when change, like retirement, is forthcoming. It is a typical feeling experienced by many people at all ages, at one time or another. Retirement can “ruffle your feathers” because it takes you to the verge of something new or uncertain, or something you are unfamiliar or have little control over. Your apprehension can be compounded with certain issues related to aging, such as finances, health, family/relationships, as well as emotional conditions like depression and anxiety.  

Getting cold feet is common and understandable before retirement.  If the manifestations, however, are strong enough to disrupt your day-to-day life, you need to address it. Seeing a therapist is a good decision because older adults are vulnerable to depression and anxiety. It is best to meet these feelings and conditions squarely with someone who can help.


Venturing into the Unknown

Retirement is like venturing into an uncharted territory or unexplored ground, insofar as you are concerned. After years of working, you become adjusted and comfortable in your job. Despite the challenges associated with your job or business, it has been your “playing field” for the better part of your adult years, so it is your comfort zone or a “security blanket.” It helped you feel like you were a part of something important and big. It may have been a source of your motivation and fulfillment.

Thus, leaving this behind can be a bit scary. It is like opening yourself to a different world. While preparing for retirement is something you must have been doing for a long time, you may feel unsure, wondering if you are doing the right thing. Retirement is, after all, something you have not done before.


The Big Change

Whether the years have been kind to you or not, aging will become undeniable as it ushers changes in your life. There will be physical changes. Even with the best care, aging and change are inevitable. Your skin will lose its suppleness.  You may gain or lose weight. Your hair will turn grey.  Aging can similarly make you weaker or your vision not as good as before, so that there could be things you will have difficulty doing and activities you may have to forego. You will be vulnerable to age-related conditions, which may necessitate a change in your lifestyle.

Without a job to go to, the thought of living alone in an empty nest may jolt you. If you have been independent, living with your child and his/her family could be difficult, being restrictive.  The alternatives – living in an assisted living facility if you have a medical condition – could be practical, but depending on your personality, it may not be a comfortable setup you can be happy about.

If you have always been productive, active and independent, all these can hit you hard. If you have difficulty adjusting to the changes of retirement and aging, the prospect can be terrifying.


The Fears that Come with Retirement

 Aside from the physical and lifestyle changes, older adults nearing retirement have other fears. Some of these are financial security, idleness, loss of meaning, and loss of relevance.

Outliving your savings is understandably a logical reason to worry, especially with special needs and medical care. Unfortunately, there is no “hard and fast formula” to determine how much you need for a comfortable retirement. All you can do is to work and be thrifty, to save more. The perception that you aren’t ready to retire can be stressful, contributing to your worries and distress.

Years of productivity and having a structured life may have resulted in your defining yourself by your work/job. If you do, it is understandable why you will fear idleness or not getting any intellectual challenge. It can also be the reason why you may feel irrelevant or out of the loop. The thing is, retirement should not diminish your importance, but accept that it can. This way, you can seek help even before your fears grow out of proportion to impact your thoughts and feelings.


Why the Cold Feet: Declining Self-esteem and Confidence

Aside from the physical and biological changes, nearing retirement, your self-esteem and confidence may also slip. It may not be deliberate, but it can happen just the same as aging catches on. According to a self-esteem study of 3,617 Americans, aged 24 to 104, “Self-esteem was lowest among young adults, but increased throughout adulthood, peaking at age 60, before it started to decline.”

The researchers opined that self-esteem could be at its prime during midlife when status and power are also at their peak. It could start declining as they enter retirement or become older adults experiencing. Lead researcher Richard Robins of the University of California, Davis, says “In contrast, older adults may be experiencing a change in roles such as an empty nest, retirement and obsolete work skills in addition to declining health.”


Depression and Anxiety: Complicating Retirement

All the changes and challenges of retirement can exact a toll on your emotional health, making adjustment to retirement more difficult, especially during the transition period. Your “cold feet” isn’t imaginary. The risks are for real. Your cold feet can be related to an underlying condition, such as depression and/or anxiety. This is confirmed by a report released by the Institute of Economic Affairs, which says that, “… retirement increases your risk of clinical depression by 40 percent…”

Anxiety is also a common emotional condition among retirees. In a large national study conducted by researchers from the Stanford University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Foothill College, it was observed that “middle-aged men were less likely to have elevated anxiety symptoms compared with older men.”  It is also estimated that one in five people over 75 experiences elevated anxiety symptoms.


Enjoying the Fringe Benefits of Retirement

Retirement and aging are inevitable – they will come whether you want them to or not, or whether you are ready for them or not. When it happens, getting cold feet is natural, but it can be worse when you aren’t eager to leave your job/work yet, for one reason or another. For some, retiring can be more complicated by depression and/or anxiety, or by a decline in their health, self-esteem and confidence. In this case, it makes sense to seek professional help from an understanding counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC.

Slowly fading away or retiring from what you used to be passionate about may not be something to be ecstatic about, but there is no other way. If adjusting to your retirement is becoming too much for you to face on your own, don’t forget that you can be helped by a counselor or therapist. If the symptoms of anxiety and depression are causing the adjustments to be extremely challenging, you may need the proper diagnosis and treatment from a professional.


Like every milestone in your life, retiring/becoming an older adult has its fringe benefits. Let us help you appreciate the brighter side of this stage in your life. Call Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Counseling Information

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Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

45 Dowd Circle Suite 5
PinehurstNC 28374

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311