Rituals and Routines in Retirement

My brother, who is retired, lives in Athens and we were going on an out of state trip.  I was to make the 45 minutes trip over to his home to pick him up at 9:30am, not too early and not too late.  When I was 10 minutes out, I called him.  He was not going to be ready he said to me.  It seems he has a ritual of getting ready in the mornings and he was going to have to complete that process before we could begin our trip. He didn’t want to be rushed.

Rituals – a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone. Rituals helps you slow down, to find happiness in the smallest of things. Some have a passion to turn everyday routines into more meaningful rituals.

Enjoying rituals is one of the pleasures of retirement.There are many types of rituals you can enjoy. Here are some I have heard from residents of my Active Adult Retirement Community

  • Morning/Getting Ready Routine – my brother has this one as do many people.  Most of us go through the same ritual every morning and includes some of these things like drinking two glasses of water, brushing teeth, getting dressed,  reading paper, checking TV and/or Internet, going out on the patio to check the weather, bathroom  break, etc.  We tend to do the same things in the same order without having to think about it.
  • Breakfast Ritual – I have been taking a walk and then coming back to make me a breakfast.  I love to poach an egg or two, microwave a slice of Costco turkey bacon, toast a thick slice of toast or English Muffin and maybe a slice of cheese. My wife Mary Ann always gets her bowl of Oatmeal, adding a little soy milk and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Season Tickets – When we lived in Johns Creek, for several years we had tickets to the Broadway Series of plays at The Fox in downtown Atlanta for Saturday evening.  We knew exactly when to leave home to get there, where to park, and where our seats were. At intermission, I had just enough time to hit the restroom and get a strong cup of coffee.  That was an enjoyable ritual.
  • Walking Pets – This is a great ritual to get people out of the house on a regular schedule, to get some fresh air while walking their little white dog.
  • Cocktail Hour – One neighbor says he and his wife have cocktails every day at 5pm and the only thing that changes is the hors d’oeuvres
  • Exercise Rituals –  The most effective way to do exercise is to create a ritual of doing it at the same time each day, preferably the morning.  With the race walking I do, it’s good to have a ritual you follow so that on race day, you do the same things. Things like eating two hours in advance, stop drinking water one hour before, taking a couple of Tylenol one hour before, start warming up 50 minutes before starting with walking a mile, then stretching. Taking an Cliff energy shot 15 minutes before. Wearing your favorite race shoe (never a new pair) and doing what you do in practice.
  • Yard/Gardening – Mary Ann is watering the patio plants every morning and I am setting out the sprinkler for our new backyard sod.  It’s nice to have a reason to step outside early each morning. Plants need some attention just about every day.
  • Travel Rituals – In a few month we are taking another December cruise on Celebrity and another to the Southern Caribbean, with our former neighbors Scott and Dawn.  This must be our 36th cruise and 7th with Scott and Dawn.  We know we are going to have a good time. We know the ship and going with people we know and enjoy.  We used to go to Destin, FL every April for many years to stay at the same condo.  We loved it because we know where everything was and it felt like home.
  • Many more rituals and routines – are practicing mediation or yoga, reading books, watching a favorite Netflix series, having lunch with friends every Friday, card playing, watching or playing in a sports league, taking on-line classes, dance club, going to the gym, walking, etc.
  • Why Rituals and Routines Are Good For UsRituals and routines help you find some enjoyable ways to spend your time and spur you into action. For example, in our community tickets go on sale one day of each month for activities like entertainment shows.  There are always a crowd of people down at the clubhouse to get tickets on that day.  This monthly routine sells tickets.

Routines have a rhythm that can slow you down to enjoy the process so that you don’t have to hurry to get it done. You can be mindful as you are doing things and really enjoy them, even the routine things.  Routines can be something you enjoy and look forward to.

Mary Ann and both look forward to the monthly lunches we have in the community.  I am on the list for three different groups, so every week I have a lunch I could go to.  The men on my street have a lunch, there’s a pickleball lunch, and a social group all have lunches I am invited to, luckily on different weeks.

Rituals and routines can create feelings of happiness and reduce stress not having to make choices of what to do each day.  In times of crises, many find their routines reassuring and help them cope. For people that get divorced or  lose a spouse, it’s nice to have routines that get you out of the house and sharing activities with people.

Rituals and routines are a good thing and there are plenty of them to plug into living in an Active Retirement Community. Living in this type community helps you to create some routines easily, which is especially helpful to newly retired folks. -Robert Fowler

By Robert Fowler

Robert Fowler is President of Retirement Media Inc. and publisher of Robert and his wife Mary Ann live at Village at Deaton Creek, a Del Webb Community in North Georgia. Robert has visited many 55+ Active Adult Communities and blogs about Active Adult Community Living.

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