We tend to acquire a lot of “stuff” over our lives. Often, these items have social or nostalgic significance to us, and we may find it difficult to imagine living without them. Yet, as you near retirement, those possessions that once delighted and defined you may begin to tax your strength and mental clarity.
Maybe you find yourself wondering what exactly is in those boxes you haven’t opened in the garage for 10 years. Or perhaps that half-acre lawn you loved when you bought your house 30 years ago now makes you feel isolated. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to consider downsizing.
The good news is that downsizing in your retirement isn’t just good for your peace of mind. It could also help you live longer. Here’s how:
1) Improved mental health. Studies have found a relationship between the drive to acquire more “things” and depression. The more materialistic we are – the more stuff we collect and cling to – the greater the chances that our mental health will suffer. Removing clutter and changing up or downsizing your living space can help bring about a renewed sense of optimism.
2) Reduced stress. It’s well known that stress can have a profound negative impact on our overall health. Many older adults find that as they age it becomes more difficult to maintain a larger home and the associated personal items. Downsizing to a smaller space and reducing the amount of stuff you have to worry about can help you breathe easier.
3) Stronger relationships. The more material possessions we have, the more time it takes to maintain, organize, and manage those objects. Decreasing the amount of stuff we care for means we get back time for doing things that make us truly happy - like forming and maintaining social relationships. Strong social ties have been found to increase longevity by 50%.
4) Increased happiness. Many feel a sense of relief after cleaning out closets or decluttering hobby rooms and pantries. There is evidence that paring down our personal items really does have an impact on our emotions and our sense of well-being. And happy people live longer!
5) Brainpower boost. Caring for and obsessing over objects from the past takes time and energy. Reduce the amount of mental and physical energy you expend every day managing your closet or home maintenance tasks and put it into doing things that challenge your mind and help improve memory. Traveling, enjoying new experiences, and taking up new hobbies can all have positive effects on retaining or even improving your memory.
Explore Worry-Free Retirement Living
Are you ready to live a healthier, less stressful life in retirement? Consider the one-bedroom apartment options here at Presbyterian Homes. Discover worry-free living in one of these unique communities:
Downsizing: Next Steps
In part two of our three-part series on downsizing in your retirement, we will share a comprehensive guide to downsizing from your family home to a cozier, maintenance-free living space. This guide will help you begin your downsizing journey. Get tips on how to evaluate, prepare, and implement a plan that works for you.