Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Truth time. Any of these sound like you?
You are becoming more forgetful?
You get irritable?
You are becoming a dangerous driver?
Your face looks haggard?
Now, here is the real, underlying question: Are you getting old?
Well, guess what! We are all getting older—physically. But that isn’t the same as getting old, which has to do with attitude.
COVID-19 may be the culprit. Either we have been isolated for too long, or we suffer under the stress of being out where we can more easily catch the virus. So, who isn't more irritable?
Don’t jump to conclusions, however. All four of these assessments are also symptoms of not getting enough rest. The sad part is that these things can happen to us whether we are older or not, retired or not, stressed out about COVID-19 or not.
The remedy should not come as a surprise: Get more rest. You deserve to remember things, look your best, be less irritable, and a lot less dangerous. Rest is key to a better you and your ability to maintain your mental and emotional flexibility in face of this pandemic or even “normal” life.
How to you do that? Here are some suggestions.
Trade travel for sleep
If you can recover a fraction of your work-related commute time or work time itself and devote that to sleep, you can actually get rested. Sure enough, when I went back and looked at my daily Fitbit log of sleep in retirement, I was averaging 15 to 20 minutes more sleep a day. And it made a positive difference. Where did the additional time come from? I'm betting the commute.
Go to bed and get up at the same times each day
New retirees want to play and/or sleep in. If you are new to social isolation, you probably have the same temptation. I get it. Sooner or later, however, you want to establish an after retirement or isolation new normal. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Maybe go to bed slightly earlier? Maybe stay in bed a little longer? The goal is to sleep a little bit longer. Your body responds positively to a consistent routine, so no matter how long you sleep, do it at the same time every day.
If COVID-19 has forced you to work from home, or be home when you had become accustomed to being out, this tip is particularly important. A regular pattern is essential.
Your circadian rhythms will thank you.
Find something to do first thing in the morning
If you’re like my friend Marcia who worries that she would stay in her “jammies” all day unless she has something to do, you need to find some good reason to get out of bed.
COVID-19 has really put a damper on my usual suggestions in this regard because you may not be able to get out and go somewhere away from home. However, now that spring is on the way, you have a way to do this: Take a walk outside; fresh air and sunshine will help.
If all else fails, get up and eat breakfast.
The goal is to get out of bed. Staying in that cocoon can lead to increased negative feelings.