Friday, June 4, 2021

Semi-Retirement - The New Retirement Model for Baby Boomers

Many Baby Boomers have reservations about completely ending their careers at an arbitrary age during their 60s. They may feel they do not have enough money saved to last the rest of their lives, especially if they come from a long line of people who lived into their 90s. They may also worry about the social isolation they will feel when they no longer spend time with a group of co-workers on a daily basis.  Some fear they will be bored and have nothing to do, particularly if they do not have hobbies they look forward to enjoying after retirement.

As a result of these concerns, this week I particularly appreciated receiving a guest post from the authors of, another website which strives to keep Baby Boomers informed, as we all navigate the complicated process of retiring.  Their post is on how to pursue "semi-retirement," so we can gradually ease ourselves into full retirement at some point in the future.

If you are feeling a little uncertain about what the future holds for you after you retire, you may want to read "Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement."  (Ad) It has some great advice and will help you face the future with greatr optimism.

Below is this week's guest post:

Semi-Retirement - What is it?

by the authors of  

Many Baby Boomers choose semi-retirement over full retirement. It is a trend which continues to grow. There are many compelling reasons for making this choice but, while there are advantages to semi-retirement, there are some drawbacks too. Let’s take a look at what semi-retirement is and review some pros and cons on the subject.
What is Semi-Retirement?

Before we discuss the pros and cons of semi-retirement, it is important to know what it is. Semi-retirement comes in different forms but, basically, when a person chooses to semi-retire, they still plan to work but far fewer hours. The most common reason for the decision to semi-retire is to improve cash flow to meet financial obligations, and/or pay for luxuries like travel or investments. But there are other reasons too.
Pros and Cons of Semi-Retirement

People who do not fully retire do so for two reasons. For some people, full retirement leaves them feeling bored and depressed. Working gives their lives purpose and a focus, as well as additional cash to spend or save.

The second reason revolves solely around money. Someone might want to fully retire, but cannot afford to. Others want to maintain a steady income throughout retirement.

In your first few years of retirement, extra income can make life easier and provide you with a better standard of living. So, at least for a while, it makes sense to transition to semi-retirement before full retirement.

Semi-retirement gives Baby Boomers the freedom to work when they want, live where they want, travel, and still produce an income.

Semi-retirement sounds like heaven on earth for some people, but it does come with potential disadvantages. Before you jump into semi-retirement, you want to consider the negatives too.

Should You Start Your Own Business in Retirement?

The first factor to consider is particularly for those who want to start their own business. 
Some people decide that retirement is the time to become their own boss, start a small business, and they take this opportunity to do it! You need to realize, however, that when you first start, it becomes easy to work more hours than you anticipated, or more hours than when you worked at your job full-time. However, some people may find that this motivates and excites them, and working many hours at the start does not bother them. Keep in mind that if your overall goal is to work less, starting a business might not be the best option for you, especially if you are a hard worker.

You might want to avoid starting a business if you need to use a large portion of your savings to finance the new operation. There is no guarantee your business will become successful and generate a profit. You do not want to end up losing money which was intended to help you get you through your retirement. If you are intent on starting your own business, make sure you set a strict budget and stick to it. Do not overspend, unless you are sure you can afford it.

The other potential drawback involves your time. You may come to regret all the time you spend working, when you could have chosen to spend more time with your grandchildren, friends, or family members.

What Jobs Can a Semi-Retired Person Do?

Instead of starting your own business, you may decide to work fewer hours at a regular job. In fact, you may already work at a place which is willing to let you reduce your hours to part-time, so you can keep your job and semi-retire. If you are not looking for a change (other than a reduction in hours) this can be a great option. Unfortunately, this option is not available to the majority of people, so they need to look for other possibilities in finding a semi-retirement job. 

One of the most popular options for those looking to semi-retire is becoming a real estate agent. Working as a real estate salesperson allows for flexible hours and, depending on where you live, it can produce a significant income. It is also fairly simple for Baby Boomers to become a real estate agent.

Consultant jobs are another popular choice for those who choose the path of semi-retirement. The job comes with incredible flexibility, and ideally being a consultant will allow you to work as much or as little as you want. It also allows you to pass your decades of experience onto another person who is in the industry where you built up your career.

These are not the only jobs you can do during semi-retirement. You could set up several small businesses or find a part-time work-from-home job. For example, you could start a blog about your experiences or life. Creating an online store using drop-shipping from a major vendor is another example. You could also give music lessons or tutor people in other skills you have, for example offering cooking classes in your home. You could even start an business where you offer to share the expertise you have accumulated from your career over the years.

Final Thoughts

The decision of whether to semi-retire or completely retire is not an easy choice. There are many things to consider which can impact the final years of your life, depending on the route you take. You may lose time or money during the first phase of semi-retirement if you start a new business. You also need to realize you will have less free time if you decide to continue working. However, semi-retirement can help you transition into full retirement and generate extra income which will come in handy when you finally do fully retire.


Baby Boomers themselves, David and Alice Goldstein founded a few years into their own semi-retirement. They publish articles which focus on the practical needs of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964.

For more great job ideas for workers at the end of their career, read "The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life." (Ad)

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.
If you are interested in learning more about retirement, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Long-Distance Caregiving - A Practical Guide for Family Members

A major concern for many families is how to care for a loved one who is growing older, but lives some distance away from them.  How can they make sure they are able to age-at-home, without the support of family members?  The good news is that modern technology has made it much easier to help the senior citizens in your family to safely remain in their own home as long as possible. With a few convenient community services, and the addition of some virtual assistants, many seniors can stay in their own home and continue to live a full, satisfying life.  

This week's guest post by Claire Wentz contains some great suggestions to help you with long-distance caregiving.  In addition, family members may want to contact resources in their loved one's community, such as their local senior center, their personal physician, and their church to see what other assistance may be available in their neighborhood.

You may also want to read this very helpful book: "When Your Aging Parent Needs Help: A Geriatrician's Step-by-Step Guide to Memory Loss, Resistance, Safety Worries, and More."  (Ad) It will help you understand what is going on with your loved one and how to find them the assistance that they need. 

Below is the guest post:

A Practical Guide to Long Distance Caregiving 

As people age, they tend to require more support in order to maintain a comfortable standard of day-to-day life. When your senior parent or grandparent lives in another state, you may worry that you are unable to provide the assistance they need. Luckily, modern telecommunications technology and cutting-edge caregiving services mean you can still take steps to make their life easier -- even without seeing them face-to-face. Find out what you can do to serve as a useful long-distance caregiver below.

Coordinate transportation for them

Sometimes seniors are no longer able to safely drive due to a decrease in cognitive or physical abilities. In other cases, seniors lose confidence in their skills on the road. Whatever the case may be, you can help a loved one who no longer drives by introducing them to alternative methods of transportation. For example, get them a smartphone and teach them how to use Lyft—which has partnered with Lively to establish a unique service specially for senior riders. They can then easily get to doctor’s appointments and social events without feeling “stuck” at home. You can even link the Lyft account to your credit card and spare them the expense. Some Medicare plans also include free transportation to medical appointments. Check with their Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan to see if this is an option for your family member.

It may also be possible to find service providers who will go to their home, helping them minimize their need for transportation. Medications and food can be ordered online and delivered to their door. There are even hairdressers who will come to their home.

Hire someone else to handle yard work and cleaning

Sarcopenia is the term used to refer to the natural decline of muscle tone that comes with age. This results in general physical weakness which can make day-to-day tasks like yard work and cleaning difficult. Lugging a heavy lawnmower or toting around a big bucket of mop water may no longer be possible. Look for external service providers to keep your loved one’s home in shape, inside and outside. Molly Maids is a reputable cleaning service which operates nationwide, for example, and you can also search for lawn care professions in your loved one’s area online via their zip code. Help them create a network of people who will provide whatever services they need to maintain a safe, comfortable quality of life.

Look into food preparation services, if needed

Cooking is another task which can leave seniors feeling overwhelmed. This is problematic as it is important that seniors eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet to maintain their energy and health. Booking a service like Meals On Wheels for your loved one is a solution. This service not only addresses the issue of hunger, but also tackles isolation by ensuring seniors have contact with someone nearly every day. This can be particularly valuable for those who live alone, especially after the death of a spouse.

This is another area where you may want to talk to their Medicare provider. Some of them have contracts with food providers that will deliver reasonably priced special meals to seniors which will meet their unique medical needs, such as gluten free meals, meals for diabetics, vegetarian meals, etc.

Stay connected with senior-friendly mobile technology

Even if you cannot be there in person, you want your loved one to be able to reach you whenever they need to. Get them a senior-friendly mobile device so that they can use video chat apps such as FaceTime or Zoom and make calls or send text messages as needed. As of 2019, four in ten seniors had a smartphone. Manufacturers are recognizing the demand for phones designed for older people, creating products with unique features, such as extra-large buttons. You can also make sure your loved one always has a way to reach help in the event that they are not near their phone. A medical alert system allows your loved one to call for help in the event of a fall or anything else which requires medical attention.

There are a variety of choices in medical alert devices, (Ad) including those with and without monthly service fees. You may wish to check out a variety of devices to decide which one will work best for you and your loved one.

Follow these steps and you can rest easy knowing your parent or grandparent is getting the care they need. Meanwhile, they can make the most of their golden years. You will both benefit from peace of mind as a result.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.
If you are interested in learning more about retirement, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

Brain Boosting Jobs for Seniors to Keep You Mentally Active

Many retiring Baby Boomers worry about their uncertain future.  They are concerned about having enough money to support their lifestyle for the rest of their lives, and they worry about how they can avoid developing dementia.  The author of this week's guest post has some ideas which will help Baby-Boomers deal with their biggest fears.  Jennifer Scott, our guest poster, has written about how certain types of mentally challenging encore careers can help with both concerns ... meeting your financial needs, while also stimulating your brain.

While there are no guarantees that a retirement job will protect your brain, participating in a variety of activities which are mentally and physically stimulating have been shown to be one way to postpone Alzheimer's Disease and some other types of dementia. 

To learn about other ways to protect your mental function as you age, you will also want to read the book, "The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline."

The guest post is below:

Find Your Second Act in Your Senior Years with these Brain Boosting Jobs

Maybe you picture spending your retirement lying on a beach, or perhaps you prefer a more active retirement, enjoying hiking or biking. You have certainly earned the opportunity for fun and relaxation, but it may be to your advantage to consider finding a part-time job, too. The extra income is nice, but the real reward is in the boost your brain gets from working. Just about anything you set your mind to do can help you stay sharp, but below are some specific suggestions for jobs which will particularly engage your brain.

Explore Digital Opportunities

Between laptops, smartphones, and other digital devices, so much of what we do these days revolves around computers. This is why many of the best part-time job opportunities make use of digital tools. If you want to work for yourself, one way to use computers is by starting your own home-based e-commerce business. We love the drop shipping model for e-commerce because it allows you to sell whatever you choose by having items shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customers. Going this route minimizes your startup costs because it eliminates the need to have a traditional storefront or invest in inventory.

The best plan for success is to choose a product category which you really care about, but the great thing about using drop shipping is that there are countless products you can choose from. If you are into fashion, you can sell clothing and accessories, or if you love technology, you could go with tech gadgets such as cell phones and other electronics.  There are several online companies which will help you get started.  Before you select one, be sure to check out their rating with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see if you find complaints about them.  Once you are satisfied, you just need  to find a way to promote the products through your email contacts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media. 

Should you decide to start your own business, there are many things you will need to do to ensure that everything stays on the up and up. For example, you may need to register your business with the state, which involves learning the specific guidelines and regulations that you will need to follow. Also, you may need to set up payroll if you have any employees, which could happen if you business grows quickly.

What is payroll, and how do I do it? Simply put, it is the process of correctly paying people for the work they do. Although this sounds simple on the surface, it actually involves a number of steps, including actually cutting paychecks and ensuring that the payroll taxes and financial records are handled correctly and accurately.  You can easily learn how to do it, however, using a program like Quicken, or you could hire a company to handle this service for you.  Before you worry about employees, of course, you first need to get your home business off the ground.

If e-commerce isn’t your thing, you can still make use of digital technology to do a variety of jobs from home and even use skills from your previous job. For example, if you are a retired teacher, you could become an online tutor, or if you have administrative skills, you could become a virtual assistant. Once again, you need to check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company.  There are some good ones, but there are also scams. You do not want to start off your retirement by getting scammed. 

The underlying benefit from all of these ideas is that they require you to make use of your knowledge while also learning new things so you stay at the top of your game.  The more new things you learn, whether it is how to do payroll or how to improve your other skills, the more your mind will be challenged and the more likely you will be able to postpone signs of dementia.

Engage in Arts and Literature

According to the National Institute on Aging, research has shown that one of the best ways to preserve your memory as a senior is to learn something new. If you love hands-on activities, put this concept into action by learning a new craft. As you hone your skills, you can find opportunities to monetize your work, such as selling your wares at festivals.

Along with crafts and other visual arts, music is another art form which has amazing brain benefits. If you know how to play an instrument, look into providing lessons as a part-time job. Another ideal job for seniors is to work at local arts events. If you have a local theater, ballet, or symphony, you could work as an usher. After all, this is an excellent way to gain exposure to all kinds of arts and make money while doing it!

For those who have a passion for literature, AARP lists working as a library assistant as one of the best jobs for seniors. Working in a library requires the mental exercise of cataloging books and answering questions. Plus, interacting with the public keeps you socially engaged, and research has shown that social activity may help fight off dementia.

Get Outside and Be Active

You may be surprised to find that being physically active is just as important as mental activity in keeping your brain strong. Of course, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to make money being active! If you love animals, look into starting a business as a dog walker. Or, if you love the outdoors, Southern Living suggests working as a park ranger.

The great thing about these ideas is that they are as fun as they are beneficial, so you don’t have to sacrifice your hard-earned time doing something you don’t like. This is why seniors have nothing to lose by getting back into the workforce. You can discover new joys and strengthen your brain, and the paycheck will be like icing on the cake!

For more great job ideas, read "The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life."

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.
If you are interested in learning more about retirement, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: Pixabay

Friday, May 14, 2021

Memory Care Communities: Part of Retirement Planning

One of the biggest concerns many Baby-Boomers have is what to do if they or their spouse begins to lose their memory as they age. Many things can cause dementia ... Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson's Disease, strokes, and even some medications. Whatever the cause, the longer we live, the greater our risk of suffering from memory loss.

Some people have found practical ways to slow down the process of moving from mild cognitive decline into serious dementia by reading books such as "The Alzheimer's Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life." (Ad). If, however, the memory of you or a loved one continues to decline, despite your best efforts, then you will want to read this month's guest post, shown below, on how to make a memory care community a part of your retirement planning:

Planning for Memory Care Communities as Part of Retirement

One of the realities in life is that, as we age, we may experience a variety of health difficulties. One of the most serious conditions we may face is Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. During 2020, researchers estimate there were more than 5.8 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the United States. This number is expected to triple by the year 2050, as our population ages. 

Unfortunately, many families cannot provide the appropriate level of care needed for someone who is suffering from severe dementia. The lack of adequate care can potentially worsen the declining cognitive ability of the person who has begun to experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia.  It may be very difficult for family members to provide for all the safety and physical needs of the patient, while also providing them with a mentally stimulating environment.

Basics of Memory Care

Memory care facilities are an option which families may consider for their older family members who are showing advanced symptoms of dementia. Of course, the safety and comfort of someone who needs this specialized care is of utmost importance, and a memory care home is designed to provide that level of care. Memory care facilities are established to provide a residential community for seniors who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. They only accept clients or residents who have advanced symptoms and who are experiencing serious mental impairment. 

The basic personal care assistance which is provided in a memory care facility is at least as good as that provided in a normal assisted living facility. However, the activities in memory care are all designed to slow down the continued cognitive impairment and may even allow for some improvement in the cognitive condition of the residents. These facilities have a staff which is specially trained to deal with people who are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Families should verify that the credentials and experience of the staff are suitable to meet the needs of the residents. 

Is a Memory Care Home the Right Thing to Do?

If you are looking for the best senior living facility for a family member, you will first want to ask yourself if memory care is the best place for your older family member. The answer to this question depends on the condition of the patient and your ability to manage their healthcare. If you believe there is a need for some interventions for cognitive care which can only be provided by a facility, then the facility will begin by performing an assessment to determine if the patient is experiencing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, since treatment, medications and health management may vary, depending on the patient's diagnosis. This analysis will also help the family members be confident that the patient is getting the appropriate care he or she needs. 

Innovative Therapies Offered by Some Communities

Since the main goal of memory care homes is to enhance the cognitive ability of the residents, they provide innovative therapies. Here are some of the therapeutic activities which you might expect:

  • Music Therapy – Music plays an important role in enhancing memory, lessening the level of stress, and improving cognitive skills. People often remember old, favorite songs long after they have forgotten other things.

  • Mental Stimulation Therapy – The main point of this therapy is to combat anxiety, boredom, and restlessness. This may include puzzles and/or friendly competitions which involve brain games. It can also include something as simple as a conversation intended to draw out any memories the patient still has.

  • Art Therapy – Many residents love to draw, paint, or work on some craft, not only to express their feelings, but also to enhance their creativity.  These activities may also bring back memories of crafts they did in the past, even during childhood, and can have a soothing effect on some agitated patients.

  • Occupational Therapy -- The facility may work with your loved one to help them retain any skills they still have. This could include helping them remember how to dress themselves, groom themselves, feed themselves, pick out their favorite foods in an on-site store or restaurant, etc. Some memory care facilities have little shops, banks, and restaurants where residents can purchase a few items, or go to the "bank" or a restaurant, all designed to give them a sense of normalcy. This helps alleviate the feeling of being in an institution, and may help them feel more comfortable if, for example, a family member asks to take them out to dinner or to go shopping.

  • Physical Therapy -- Physical therapy is designed to help keep the patient from becoming bedridden too soon. They may spend time in various types of exercises to help them retain as much of their strength as possible. In addition, physical conditioning also seems to provide some mental stimulation and slows down cognitive decline.

Specialized Care Environments in Memory Care Homes

All the different services which are being offered in a memory care home are tailored to the specific needs of the residents. The staff in this type of community creates an environment which is as perfect as possible for the care they provide. In most cases, residents are encouraged to bring a few favorite items from home, so they have a sense of comfort and familiarity. They may have framed family photos, their own bedspread, a favorite chair and, of course, their own clothing and other personal items.

Staff is also aware that the residents may be experiencing different stages of memory loss and this is why the scope of the care provided may vary from person to person. Some of the specialized care services which you may expect from a memory care home may include:

  • Emergency monitoring (often including personal alert devices)

  • Specialized activities and programs

  • Assistance for personal care tasks

  • Transportation services to doctors and other necessary appointments

  • Maintenance, laundry and housekeeping services

The Facilities Master Plan Report

When your loved one moves into a memory care communityou may be interested to know that the facility had to go through extensive permitting and licensing requirements before the final facility master plan was made. Before the memory care facility was built, there were many steps which needed to be completed. 

First, an appropriately designed and sized structure had to be planned. After that, the property and the location were analyzed to make sure they would meet the needs of the residents. The whole process, including construction, may have taken a year or even much longer to be completed. 

Knowing about the facility master plan requirements will help you feel more confidant that memory care facilities have been designed to be as safe and comfortable as possible for every resident.

Costs Associated with Memory Care Homes

With specialized care, such as Alzheimer’s care, provided in a memory care home, it should be no surprise that these facilities are more expensive, compared to other senior living facilities. Aside from providing specialized assistance to their patients, the staff are also trained to ensure that the residents are safe and secure within the community. Because of this, it is important that the family discuss the cost at different facilities in their area. The fees may differ from state to state, and could also be affected by whether the facility is in an urban or rural area.

There are a number of options for handling the financial cost of memory care, and some of the more common ones are shown below:

Medicaid is a possibility for people who have limited income and assets. In fact, Medicaid covers the cost of memory care for about 24% of all patients in these facilities.

Some residents may have purchased long-term care insurance in the past, and their policy is now available to cover the cost of their memory care.

The cash value of some life insurance policies may also be used to pay for memory care while you are still alive, assuming you have a large cash value in your life insurance policy. Check with your life insurance provider to see if this is an option for you.

If the patient moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) before they developed dementia, the arrangement they have with their CCRC will usually include the cost of being moved into the memory care unit when they are no longer able to live in their original independent living apartment. Some people buy into these communities by selling their home and purchasing a condo in a CCRC. Other CCRC facilities have rental apartments, with the cost changing as their needs increase. Their monthly fees may be covered by their Social Security benefits and any other income sources they have.

Veterans may be able to move into a Veterans' home and receive whatever care they need for the remainder of their life, including memory care, or they may qualify for a small monthly payment which can be used towards the cost of a nursing home, memory care facility, or healthcare aide in a private home.

Families may supplement the cost of a memory care facility, over whatever income the patient already has from Social Security, pensions, and income from their retirement account or from the sale of the patient's home and other property. Remember that if the patient has a low income and few assets, the cost of their memory care will probably be covered by Medicaid. Make sure you investigate all your options.

Discuss all possible financial arrangements with the financial office at several different memory care facilities in your area. Your loved one may qualify for more financial assistance than you realize, but the sooner you make your plans, the easier the transition will be. 

Memory care facilities are a very important part of the community. The most important factor to consider is choosing one where the patient will be safe and comfortable. 

Before going to a memory care facility, however, you may wish to try reading "The Alzheimer's Prevention and Treatment Diet." (Ad) It could help you postpone the need for treatment as long as possible.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  Enter your email address in the link, and you will receive a weekly email with the most current post from this blog.

If you are interested in learning more about common health issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: Guest Author Holly Klamer

Friday, May 7, 2021

Finding Joy During Tough Times

Savoring beauty will help you feel happy!
According to research, the Covid-19 pandemic sharply increased the number of people who are self-reporting their loneliness, sadness, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and other difficulties.  Even as businesses begin to open, and many people are feeling more optimistic than they have in a year, millions of other people are still feeling overwhelmed after spending more time alone than ever before.  An unknown number of people spent much of the past year with family members who were abusive, angry or depressed.  After months of dealing with this situation, the stress had a damaging effect. Job losses, financial concerns, and the death or illness of loved ones also contributed to the pain many people have experienced.

How can we remain resilient when we feel as though there is no hope for a brighter future? How can we find joy when the evening news is full of depressing stories?  How can we find some peace and serenity in turbulent times, when we may feel helpless, with no way out? 

Give Yourself Permission to Feel Happiness in Dark Times

Decades ago, when my husband and I stayed for a short time in a very poor community in Mexico early in our marriage, we noticed that the people around us were singing, laughing, eating communal meals, and enjoying their lives, despite the fact that they lived in small homes with dirt floors and no plumbing or electricity.  We marveled that they could be so happy, even though most of them would never significantly improve their standard of living.  They were not waiting until some special event occurred to make them happy.  They gave themselves permission to be happy now.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, my husband and I found we enjoyed sitting on our patio, barbecuing our dinner, watching the birds and chatting with a few neighbors who were also enjoying time outdoors.  Our evenings became more peaceful.  Although we were no longer going out to eat, or seeing movies in theaters, or enjoying other forms of entertainment, we found joy in just a simple meal and some quiet time together.  We gave ourselves permission to be happy, no matter how long the virus lasted.

It is important you give yourself permission to be happy, too, despite what is going on around you.  Find simple activities which bring you joy, and allow yourself to indulge in them.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

You may know people who have a lavish beach house where they are quarantining, or friends who are home-schooling their children with the aid of a live-in nanny.  You may have friends who never lost their job during the pandemic, managed to stay healthy, and seemed to sail through the year unscathed.

It is so easy to compare yourself to other people and feel as though your life is not as good.  Comparing yourself to others is likely to only make you unhappy.  If you want to compare yourself to others, focus on how fortunate you are.  Do you have a comfortable place to live, compared to people who became homeless during this pandemic?  Do you have plenty of food and toilet paper?  Do you have someone you care about who is in quarantine with you, or someone you can call and talk to regularly?  Do you have things you enjoy doing at home such as working in your garden, reading, knitting, writing or painting?  Take advantage of having all the time you now have to finish your projects and nurture yourself.

Read Books Which Uplift You

You can learn to be happier by carefully choosing your reading material.  Many people love Reader's Digest, because of their cute jokes and uplifting stories.  Some uplifting, encouraging books which you may find helpful are listed below: (Ad)

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Practicing Mindfulness by Matthew Sockolov

Reading daily meditations or religious books may also bring you peace and comfort.  Take the time to really contemplate them.

Play Your Favorite Music

People enjoy a wide variety of music choices, but nearly everyone has some type of music which brings them joy, whether it is a symphony, Reggae, rock 'n roll, or gospel music.  Personally, I love to ask "Alexa" on my Echo Dot to play spa music. (Ad)  It is so relaxing and I have noticed that my blood pressure is even lower after listening to it.  On the other hand, my daughter, who has three young children, often tells Alexa to play songs her children enjoy and love to dance to.  It is a fun way to get them moving, and she dances right along with them.  Music seems to touch us all in a way which is hard to explain, but frequently stirs our emotions.

Connect with Others

Even if you are living alone, it does not mean you have to feel alone.  Reach out to others.  Drop notes in the mail to old friends.  Don't wait for your annual Christmas card to send them a letter.  Send emails, too.  Pick up the phone and call someone.  Participate in classes and reunions on Zoom.  Have a virtual cocktail party with other friends, using Zoom to connect you all. The more you connect with other people, the better you will feel.  

According to a Harvard Study on Adult Development, "Good relationships keep us happier and healthier."  They claim that a sense of joy will reduce corrosive forces, like inflammation, which can be very damaging to our body.  In other words, nurturing our friendships also nurtures our body.

Get Exercise and Breath Deeply

Being physically active can also improve our mood and release feel-good chemicals.  You can try yoga, which includes deep breathing exercises.  Go for a walk in nature, go swimming, or participate in other activities you enjoy, either alone or as a family.  Make sure you get your heart rate up occasionally while you exercise, and take a few deep breaths every few minutes. Don't forget to stop at times to savor the beauty around you.  In other words, "take the time to smell the roses."  While you're at it, listen to the birds and enjoy the view.  It will increase your happiness even more.

Essentially, we are all going to experience tough times during our lives.  It may be because of a disease like Covid, loneliness, illness, death in our family, or a financial setback.  Regardless of the reason, we can choose to do something to change the way we feel.  We can find a way to improve our mood, ease our anxiety, and give ourselves permission to experience joy again!

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