Emotional Stages of Retirement

Written by: Ankita Kathad MA – (Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : January 31, 2023

If you have been thinking of retirement, it is important to know that it is a big transition. There can be many thoughts and feelings in the mind of the person who is retiring. There can be thoughts like, ‘I am going to travel the world after I retire’. However, there can be some sad feelings like, ‘How will I manage my expenses after I retire?’. These thoughts can cause a lot of stress, which is we in this article we talk about retirement. We will be exploring the emotional stages of retirement. Further, we discuss emotional preparation for retirement. Let’s start by discussing transitions.

A transition refers to a change. Retirement is a big change as discussed. It comes with a range of emotions. The adjustment to this change does not happen all at once. It occurs in stages. These stages involve emotional adjustment to retirement. Let us talk about these stages in detail.

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Chapter 1:

What Are the Emotional Stages of Retirement

These stages are steps that most people go through in their journey. There can be variations in the order of these stages. Knowledge about these can help in emotional preparation for retirement.

Even before retirement starts, you will find yourself dreaming about the phase. This stage is all about planning. Here you will be focusing on a lot of things. This stage starts long before the actual retirement, It can even start ten years before the event. Here you will be thinking about important aspects such as finances, place of residence post-retirement, or alternate employment. Additionally, you will have to think about things that will make your life meaningful after retirement. Many people spend a lot of time worrying about finances in this stage. Here are some points you can consider for emotional preparation during retirement.

  • Start cutting down some unnecessary expenses. This will ensure that you are financially secure for the future. This will help in reducing stress related to retirement.
  • You can spend some time thinking about any hobbies that you want to pursue during retirement. This will help you stay engaged.
  • You can think of vocations that can give meaning to your life after you retire.
  • Set clear goals for the change so that you don’t feel confused later.

Actual Retirement- Excitement Stage
In this emotional stage, retirement is happening! You will be filled with joy for a few months or even years. In this freedom stage, you will have a lot of time to reconnect with friends and family. You will have time to do the things you had wanted to do. Moreover, in this stage, you get to spend more time with your loved ones. While some go on long vacations, some can find the change a little disturbing. That is to say that some may struggle with a lack of routine. Therefore they will continue to follow their old schedules.

This stage is also the honeymoon stage of retirement. You will have a lot of possibilities. There will be uncertain times but overall it will be an exciting phase. You don’t have to go to work. Moreover, you don’t have deadlines anymore. You get to eat at your time. Here are some ways you can try to not get emotionally overwhelmed in this stage.

  1. Try to establish some amount of routine. Stick to some activity that gives you happiness.
  2. Try not to get too excited. Remember to look after your health.
  3. Cultivate healthy habits if haven’t been able to look after your health earlier.
  4. Be mindful of whatever you do.


The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. This stage is the most emotionally draining stage of retirement. This is the stage on the retirement graph when the emotional high starts to come down slowly. Here you can feel some amount of disappointment. Here is when most people realize that they are missing the old life. Or a life of work. There can be hopelessness. One can feel meaningless or purposeless. For emotional preparation for this stage of retirement, here are some tips that you can use.
  • Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. If you have been finding it hard to transition, speak to them about how they can help you out.
  • Take up a hobby that gives meaning to your day. Some hobbies that are fulfilling are planting a garden or teaching a skill to children.
  • Volunteer wherever you think your skills can help others.
  • Take up alternate employment which adds meaning to your life.

This is a stage where a lot of heavy emotions from the previous stages culminate. Here the retirees, after feeling a lack of purpose, go back to their original plan. They may create new plans or make changes to the earlier ones. In this stage, the retiree accepts reality and begins to reorient with the new life. Here they may start to make actual changes in life like getting used to the new routine. Here you may be learning to attain balance in your life. To deal with this emotional stage of retirement, you can use the following tips.
  • What is it that you truly want to accomplish? Ask yourselves if the goal is realistic. How can you attain it?
  • Ask yourselves what makes you truly happy. What are the resources required to be happy?
  • How can you make everyday fun?
  • Try to focus on health and fitness. This is the time when you need to watch out for signs that your body gives.

In this emotional stage of retirement, most retirees have become comfortable in their routine. Here, they seek stability. Moreover, they try to live a relaxing lifestyle. Here the emotions may not be as complex as in the beginning stages. Most of the attention will be diverted toward living a simple life. Here are some ways to find much-needed stability.
  • Try to take out time for introspection. Additionally, reflect upon past achievements. A thought journal can be helpful.
  • Try to reconnect with old friends once in a while and rejoice in old times.
  • Continue the hobbies you had taken up and maintain them.

Chapter 2:


While retirement can be a journey filled with mixed emotions, for some, it can bring anxiety. Many people, get depressed during or before retirement. A lot of events take place during retirement. For some, it can be a time of financial dependence. Moreover, some can get overwhelmed by end-of-life crises. Old age depression often goes unnoticed. This depression can manifest itself into chronic pain or constant fatigue. Therefore, it is very important to keep a tab on mental health during retirement. If you or your loved ones are going through depression or anxiety during retirement, do not hesitate to seek help. At Epsychonline, there are self-help courses to help you emotionally prepare for retirement. Courses Like Chronic pain and articles such as daydreaming about retirement or managing transitions can be useful for people who are planning to retire. Do check them out.

"Structured and engaging course" Joan

69 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount