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Get social in retirement

Discover why staying connected matters in retirement

Friends and family can be a great support when times are hard or you need an extra pair of hands. But the benefits of having a good social network go further than you may think. Staying connected can also keep you healthy in mind and body. And here’s why.

Get social and feel fulfilled

Research shows the impact of social interactions on health and wellbeing can be really significant, especially in later life. In his 2013 study into the benefits of having friends in older age, Oliver Huxhold from the German Centre of Gerontology found that taking part in activities with friends increased life satisfaction and positive feelings and could actually protect people from the negative effects of ageing. It seems spending time with friends can play a really important role in having a fulfilling life and positive outlook as we grow older.

Taking part in activities with friends increased life satisfaction and positive feelings and could actually protect people from the negative effects of ageing

Setting up your social life for retirement

Regular social interactions often revolve around your job. When you retire, you’re sometimes leaving behind activities and relationships that keep you connected. That’s why it’s important to start building a wider social network before leaving work. How you do this will depend on your interests, existing commitments and what’s on offer. Joining a local gym, a club for the arts or playing sport can all be good places to start. And volunteering in your local community is ideal for meeting people, developing new skills and feeling good about giving something back.

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Staying connected has a positive impact on health

But it’s not just about feeling good. Psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University in Utah published research in 2010 about the health benefits of staying connected. Results showed social isolation can be worse for your health than not exercising regularly and more than twice as harmful as obesity. So what can we take away from the science? Well, it’s reassuring to know that your lifestyle choices can make a difference to your health especially when you’re choosing to enjoy time with friends and family.

Feel like getting more socially connected?

Once you’ve retired there are plenty of groups and organisations to help you stay connected. Your local council and local newspaper are great resources for finding clubs, courses and groups that can help you meet new people and expand your social network. And of course looking online is a quick and easy way of finding out what’s going on in your area.

Prepare for the best

Giving some thought now to how you’ll spend your time in the future and, importantly, who you’ll spend it with, can make all the difference to your sense of connection and wellbeing for years to come.

At StatePlus we’re experts in helping you prepare for a fulfilling life in retirement. Download our 5 ways to get ready for retirement guide to start planning for your future.

Related articles for you:

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Strong relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytics Review
Oliver Huxhold, Benefits of Having Friends in Older Ages: Differential Effects of Informal Social Activities on Well-Being in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
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